Lesli Akeo has been the unsung hero in Siena's improbable run back into the MAAC race
Oct. 29, 2011
Just when it looked like Siena's five-match win streak would come to a disappointing conclusion at McCann Arena Saturday afternoon, the impossible happened. The Saints staved off three match points, rallying from a 14-11 deficit in the fifth set to post a stunning win over rival Marist 3-2 (25-23, 25-18, 18-25, 21-25 and 17-15).
Siena (10-12, 8-6) is now alone in fifth place in the MAAC, just one half game behind Manhattan and Marist (11-12, 8-5) for third place, with four matches left to play. The Saints are a perfect 3-0 against the Jaspers and Red Foxes, and close the season at home against Manhattan two weeks from tomorrow.
Saturday's dramatic conclusion finished off a seesaw match between two of the MAAC's hottest teams. Siena won a tight first set 25-23, never trailing after grabbing a 12-11 lead, and coasted to a 25-18 victory in the second set. Marist stormed back after intermission, finishing the third set on a 6-1 run to claim a 25-18 triumph, and then taking a quick 12-5 lead on their way to a 25-21 win in the fourth set.
Marist rode the momentum to an 8-3 lead in the fifth set, typically insurmountable in the race to 15, but Siena scored three straight after the teams switched sides to stay close. The Red Foxes pulled away again, taking a 14-11 lead on Hanna Soiberg's kill, and then things got interesting.
Needing to win just one of the next three points to complete the comeback and claim their fourth straight victory, Marist couldn't. Jacquiline Skeen's kill made the score 14-12, and after the Red Foxes called timeout, they committed consecutive attack errors, tying the set at 14-14. Colleen Ahearn put Siena on top with a finish from the middle, completing a gutty 4-0 run that may prove to have saved the Saints' season. After Marist turned back Siena's first match point, Ahearn struck again, putting the Saints up 16-15 and teaming with Sivertson on a block that ended the match.
Ahearn finished with 18 kills, equaling a season high set in an upset of Colorado in September. She was surpassed only by sophomore Taylor Akana
, who complied 19 on the outside. Lesli Akeo
led all players with 23 digs. Akana added 17 to complete her 13th double-double of the season. Freshman Rachel Stoklosa
finished off a nice week for Siena, killing eight of her 22 attacks and registering three service aces without an error.
Joanna Foss led Marist with 19 kills. Stoiberg had 13 kills and 23 assists, falling just two digs shy of a triple-double.
The Saints have an off day Sunday. They play at crosstown rival UAlbany Wednesday in their first non-league match since September 10. The road to the MAAC Championship continues next weekend in Western New York. Siena plays at undefeated defending champion Niagara Saturday, and at Canisius on Sunday.