Oct. 21, 2012
The Siena volleyball team showed this weekend it may be the team to beat in the MAAC. That's if the Saints don't beat themselves first. Siena stood just a set away from their third straight impressive conference sweep Sunday before the wheels fell off in a 3-2 (25-21, 25-22, 18-25, 18-25 and 15-11) loss at three-time defending champ Niagara.
The Purple Eagles (12-10, 9-3) broke free from an 11-11 tie in the final set, scoring the last four points of the match to secure the victory.
Siena (15-10, 9-4) was undone by an astounding 22 service errors and 32 attack errors. Even though the Saints dominated every key statistic, they couldn't overcome the 54 points they handed the Purple Eagles.
Siena rode the momentum of its convincing three-set sweep at first place Canisius Saturday to comfortable victories in the first two sets Sunday. It appeared the Saints would take a huge step toward securing the upper hand in the race for the MAAC regular-season title by sweeping the season series with Niagara. Instead, they find themselves in a dogfight for one of the four Tournament bids.
Emerging sophomore Rachel Stoklosa did everything she could to keep Siena's win streak alive. She led all players with 19 kills and added 12 digs. Freshman Meghann Wright finished off a stellar week with eight kills and no errors in 14 swings on the right side, and Sarah Sivertson assisted on 51 of the team's 60 kills.
It wasn't enough.
After intermission, Niagara rolled to consecutive 25-18 wins to force a fifth set. In the third set alone, Siena had eight serving errors. In the fifth set, Siena out-killed Niagara 10-6, but the Saints had seven hitting errors and two serving errors.
The Purple Eagles played a steady, efficient game to get back in it. Niagara had just 17 attack errors for the match.
Kari Honormichl led the Purps with 17 kills, and Ellen Senf added 11.
Siena got a match-high 24 digs from Lesli Akeo. Taylor Akana had 11 kills and 17 digs and freshman Erin Bies saw action in the backrow in all five sets, finishing with 10 digs.
The Saints next match is a critical one. They host Manhattan Saturday in their inaugural Dig Pink match at 2 p.m. in the ARC. The Saints are just a game ahead of the fifth place Jaspers in the standings, and Manhattan handed Siena another head-scratching five-set loss in Riverdale earlier this year.