NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team stood tied after two sets before suffering a pair of narrow setbacks in a 3-1 (25-14, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21) defeat at the hands of Merrimack College in its season opener on Saturday at Hammel Court. With the non-conference win, the Warriors moved to 1-1.
Junior Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) posted a career-high 12 kills and four blocks to pace the visitors, while classmate Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) had 11 kills and eight digs. First-year Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) notched eight kills in her college debut, and classmate Hanna Lesch (North Reading, Mass./North Reading) turned in six. Sophomore Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) collected career highs of 36 assists, eight digs and four kills, and classmate Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) totaled 21 digs. Sophomore Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) tacked on three blocks.
Senior Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y./Saint Anthony's) contributed 14 kills and 17 digs for Merrimack, sophomore Jennifer Cain (Melrose, Mass./Melrose) totaled 11 kills and 13 digs, while senior Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass./Central Catholic) had 10 kills and five blocks. Sophomore Tara Stuhr (Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington Beach) dished out 41 assists.
The Warriors scored the first three points of the match and, after Saint Michael's crept to within 11-7, used a 14-7 run to pull away and capture the opening set. On the strength of a 10-1 run, the Purple Knights opened a 13-3 lead in the second set. A Sheehan kill brought the hosts within 23-22, but Washington dropped a kill before Mulvaney and Weller teamed for a set-clinching block, which also tied the match.
Merrimack led by as many as six points early in the third set, and Weller notched a kill to make it 22-20 before the hosts pulled away. Down 21-16 in what proved to be the final set, and with sophomore Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) serving, Saint Michael's scored five straight points, knotting the set on Flaherty's kill, but the Warriors scored the final four points.
Saint Michael's returns to play next weekend at the two-day, four-match Union (N.Y.) Invitational on Friday and Saturday. The Purple Knights kick off their run at the tournament by facing the State University of New York at Oneonta on Friday at 4 p.m.