Women's volleyball stages pair of late comebacks in 3-2 victory over Franklin Pierce

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team rallied for a 3-2 (25-23, 16-25, 21-25, 25-23, 16-14) victory over Franklin Pierce University on Tuesday in the Ross Sports Center, coming back from a late seven-point deficit in the fourth set to force a fifth set, where the Purple Knights scored the final four points after the Ravens had reached match point. The Purple Knights, who are now 8-5 overall and 1-3 in the Northeast-10 Conference, won for the fourth time in the last five meetings with Franklin Pierce, which slipped to 5-4 and 0-4.

Sophomore Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) dropped a career-high 19 kills, including one at match point, for the hosts in addition to adding 10 digs, and senior Lindsay Phenix (Tewksbury, Mass./Central Catholic) had 12 kills and seven digs. Sophomore Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) notched 11 kills on 19 swings, while senior Jess McLeod (Medfield, Mass./Medfield) totaled 50 assists and 15 digs. It was the fifth time McLeod dished off at least 50 helpers during her career. First-year Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) posted a season-best 42 digs, the most by a Purple Knight since Stephanie Smetana '09, the program's all-time career digs leader, had 42 on Sept. 1, 2007. Classmate Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) and junior Hillary Miller (Plattsburgh, N.Y./Plattsburgh/Colby-Sawyer) added 13 and 10 digs, respectively.

During the evening, senior Chelsey Covitz (Marshfield, Mass./Marshfield) contributed eight kills during four sets, improving her career total to 836 and passing Keri Forrest '97 (832) for sixth in program annals. Katie Walsh '13 (837) is fifth, while Kaitlyn Rae '06 (844) stands fourth.

Senior Natasha Ray (Colorado Springs, Colo./Yavapai College) tallied a match-best 28 kills for Franklin Pierce to go along with 14 digs, and sophomore Sydni Schulz (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods) had 17 kills and 25 digs. Senior Stephanie Svorinic (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale CC) posted 59 assists, and classmate Lauren Miller (Alexandria, Ind./Alexandria-Monroe) finished with 32 digs and five aces.

Down 2-1 in sets, Saint Michael's trailed 19-12 in the fourth set before scoring 13 of the final 17 points, receiving three kills apiece from Flaherty and Phenix during that time. Flaherty knotted the match on a kill for the 25th point. In the fifth set, the Purple Knights fell behind by a 7-2 count and were still down 9-6 but drew within one point on four occasions before ultimately trailing 14-12 and finding themselves at match point. However, Flaherty keyed a match-ending 4-0 run with three kills, including for the 16th and clinching point.

Saint Michael's saw a 20-14 advantage turn into a 23-22 deficit in the opening set, but an attack error and consecutive kills by Phenix and McLeod gave the hosts a 1-0 edge. Franklin Pierce snapped a 12-all tie with 13 of the last 17 points in set No. 2, and an early 6-0 run by the visitors gave them a lead that the Purple Knights never whittled to fewer than two points during the third set. At that point, Saint Michael's trailed 2-1 in sets.

The Purple Knights take their final break from league play next Tuesday, heading to in-state opponent Norwich University for a 6 p.m. contest.