Purple Knights slip in five sets to 2011 NE-10 semifinalist UMass Lowell

LOWELL, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team slipped in five sets during Northeast-10 Conference play on Tuesday evening at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 25-27, 25-17, 15-12), in the Costello Athletic Center. The Purple Knights are now 9-6 overall and 1-3 in the league, while the 2011 NE-10 Tournament semifinalist River Hawks, who extended their winning streak to three matches, are 8-7 and 3-3.

Senior Katie Walsh (North Kingstown, R.I./The Prout School) posted 15 kills for Saint Michael's, while junior Chelsey Covitz (Marshfield, Mass./Marshfield) tabulated 14 kills and five blocks. Senior Tracy Peterka (Newport Beach, Calif./Mater Dei) put together a line of eight kills, 13 digs and five blocks, and junior Jess McLeod (Medfield, Mass./Medfield) had 34 assists and 15 digs. Senior Courtney Dunne (Hopkinton, Mass./Bancroft School) collected 22 digs from her position as the libero.

Sophomore Sierra Brown (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma) led the River Hawks with 15 kills and four blocks, and junior Brooke Peterson (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines) had 12 kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Anisa Smith (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo) notched 13 kills and five aces, while junior Olivia Parkins (Dracut, Mass./Dracut) totaled 46 assists and four aces.

In the opening set, the Purple Knights trailed 13-11 before scoring six straight points to take the lead for good. The teams played through six early ties in the second set until the River Hawks used a 7-2 run to snap a nine-all tie. Saint Michael's crept to within one point on four occasions, including at 23-22, before the hosts netted the final two points to knot the match. The third set was one of runs, as Saint Michael's led 5-0 behind two Covitz kills and a block, but UMass Lowell notched 13 of the next 18 points. A 10-2 Purple and Gold run ensued, with Peterka's kill providing a 20-15 margin. The teams played through five ties in the late stages, including at 25-25, before Saint Michael's scored the final two points.

UMass Lowell rushed out to an 8-1 advantage in the fourth set and led by as many as nine points to tie the match. After the hosts scored the first two points of the fifth and final set, the teams played through five ties before Saint Michael's recorded consecutive points to grab an 8-6 advantage. The River Hawks scored the next five points to push back in front, 11-8, but a kill by junior Lindsay Phenix (Tewksbury, Mass./Central Catholic) and a block by the visitors made it an 11-10 set. The Purple Knights again later trimmed a three-point deficit to one, but the hosts dropped kills for the final two points.

Saint Michael's returns home for its next three matches, beginning on Thursday with Bentley University at 7 p.m.