Sarah Sivertson may have played the match of her career Saturday. The senior setter finished with 51 assists, 12 digs, three blocks and three aces, leading the Siena volleyball team to a convincing 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 27-25 and 25-13) victory over three-time defending MAAC Champion Niagara Saturday in Loudonville.
Siverston's stats tell just part of the story. She got every player on the floor involved with Siena's offense, and the result was the team's most balanced effort in years. Senior middle hitter Colleen Ahearn killed 16 of her 23 attacks (including 10 of her first 11), pacing four players with 10 or more kills for the Saints.
The Saints hit .250 for the match, misfiring on just 21 of their 61 attacks after posting 27 errors in just 46 attacks in a loss to Binghamton Wednesday.
The Saints dominated the match defensively behind steady senior libero Lesli Akeo who led all players with 27 digs. It marked the 10th straight match, and 11th time in 13 matches this season, that Akeo has posted match-high digs.
After the two teams split the first two sets, the critical third set needed extra points to be decided. Sivertson sparked a 7-0 run with two aces, and the Saints seemed to be in command 17-12, but Niagara rallied.
With the set tied at 24-24, it was Skeen who came alive, killing two straight for the Saints to set up a third try at set point. Akana rose high off a feed from freshman Meghan Wright to finish the set, giving Siena a 27-25 victory and a 2-1 lead.
Wright was the difference maker in the fourth set, as the redshirt freshman served the Purple Eagles out of the gym after putting the Saints in front 14-12 with a hard kill from the right side. Siena reeled off 10 straight points behind Wright's service, moving within a single point of sealing the match before Niagara finally stopped the run.
The match fittingly ended on a solo block by Sivertson.
Siena was the only team in the MAAC to defeat Niagara each of the last two seasons. The Purple Eagles were picked second in this year's preseason poll, and Siena was the coaches choice to finish fourth.
The Saints look to finish off a winning weekend against Canisius at 2 p.m. Sunday in the ARC. The Griffs knocked off Marist in four sets today in Poughkeepsie.