The Siena volleyball team played with fiery determination in a 3-0 MAAC sweep of Manhattan in its inaugural Dig Pink match Saturday afternoon in the ARC. Taylor Akana led the way with 17 kills and 16 digs, and Lesli Akeo had 26 digs in the three sets.
The Saints are now on the verge of clinching one of the four spots in the upcoming MAAC Championships. They would secure a place with wins in two of their final four matches, starting with Sunday's Senior Day match with last place Saint Peter's. A Siena victory tomorrow, coupled with a Manhattan loss at Marist, would also lock up a postseason bid.
The Saints came out of the gate on a mission Saturday, blasting the Jaspers 25-12 in the first set behind eight kills from Akana.
Siena jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second set, but Manhattan scored eight of the next 10 points to take a 9-7 lead. The Saints broke free from an 18-18 tie late with Sarah Sivertson's aggressive serving. Red-shirt freshman Meghann Wright had the final two kills of the set, as the Saints took a 2-0 lead to intermission with a four-point victory in the second set.
The third set was tight throughout, and highly entertaining. Both teams exchanged long volleys, and the set remained on serve until Siena won two key points behind seldom used freshman reserve Nyah Bonilla to take a 22-19 lead. The Saints took the set 25-22, and the match 3-0, when Alexa Lamasona's serve sailed wide right.
Akana dominated early, but Sivertson mixed the ball around to get everyone involved in the second and third sets. Wright killed seven of her 21 attacks without an error, Colleen Ahearn had nine kills in 17 swings in the middle, and Jacqueline Skeen added seven kills in 18 hits.
Sivertson had 38 assists, two aces and nine digs in the three sets.
Akeo averaged 12 digs per set, and had several huge point savers, especially when things got tight. Manhattan libero Kelsey Huntoon also had 26 digs, the majority coming off the touch as the Jaspers did a nice job deflecting Siena's outside attack.
Mariana Furquim had 11 of her 14 kills in the final two sets to pace Manhattan. The Jaspers played tough after being overwhelmed in the initial set, but Siena was not to be denied.
The win was Siena's seventh straight at Alumni Recreation Center.
The victory was especially sweet because it came as Siena celebrated its inaugural Dig Pink match. The Saints wore pink warm-up jerseys and collected donations for The Side-Out Foundation. The Side-Out Foundation is a support and advocacy organization dedicated to making a significant and identifiable difference in the lives of breast cancer patients and their families by supporting clinical trials, increasing compassionate support services and educating communities.