-Score: Clark University 3, Westfield State 2
-Records: Clark (3-1), Westfield State (0-5)
-Location: Hartford, Conn. (Oosting Gymnasium)
-The Lead: The Clark University volleyball team outlasted the Owls of Westfield State University in five sets (24-26, 25-15, 24-26, 25-21, 15-9) on Friday evening in the Trinity College Tournament. Senior Ana Patricia Mercado (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) led the Cougars with 27 kills as she knocked home her 1,000th career kill in the victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED
-Despite Clark taking a 17-10 lead halfway through the first set, the Owls crept by with the first victory in a final score of 26-24. The Cougars came back to take set two by a 10-point margin, 25-15.
-Mercado started the night just 13 kills away from her 1,000th kill. After tallying five in the first set she needed just eight more to hit the mark. After posting three in a row to give the Cougars a 19-11 advantage she secured the milestone on an assist from her classmate Rachel Webb (Celina, Texas) and gave Clark the 22-13 lead.
-Westfield State edged Clark in set three with another 26-24 score. The Cougars took an early 8-5 lead but the Owls rallied back with five points in a row to take a 10-8 advantage. Three service aces in a row from freshman Lily Meadows (Bradenton, Fla.) put the Cougars back on top, 15-12. A pair of kills from Hanna Simpkins (Walpole, N.H.) and an error on the Cougars tied the set at 19-19 and Clark called a timeout. The Cougars came out of the break with the first two points on a kill from freshman Caitlin Leggett (Durham, N.C.) and a service ace from her classmate Marimo Oka (Fukuoka, Japan) (21-19). After the Owls took a 24-23 lead Mercado tied the game with a kill that was assisted by Webb. Sophomore Ainsley MacLeod (Hampden, Conn.) secured the win for Westfield when junior Ally Rega (Chelmsford, Mass.) set her up with the set-winning kill.
-The fourth set was all Clark as they held the lead for the majority of play. Freshman Bailey Vogel (Salt Lake City, UT) recorded three aces in a row to give the Cougars the 13-6 go-ahead before junior Corina Picon (Irvington, N.Y.) and Mercado teamed up for three kills to extend their lead to 18-10. The Owls came close to tying the set when Natasha Belardo (Springfield, Mass.) knocked home an ace (19-20) and Karolyn Higgins (Billerica, Mass.) added a kill (20-21), but the Cougars never gave them the lead and held on for the 25-21 finish. The game was tied at two sets apiece as the Cougars and Owls geared up for the fifth and final set.
-The Cougars took the final victory with a set score of 15-9. Mercado kicked things off with another kill while Webb recorded yet another assist. Brianna Starkey (Rockland, Mass.) added a point for the Owls to tie the set at 1-1, but Clark geared up for six points in a row to take the 7-1 advantage. Mercado and first year Margarita Perez-Maza (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) each added two kills in the rally. Two more kills from Mercado and an error by Westfield extended their lead to 10-3. The Owls came back within four points after Simpkins posted two kills (13-9), but the Cougars secured the win with points from Picon and Webb (15-9).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
-Mercado led all players with 27 kill to go along with a game-winning assist and nine digs. Picon checked in with 12 kills and senior Kacey Legare (Chicopee, Mass.) added five. Senior Rayme Quiban (Seattle, Wash.) led Clark with 25 digs while Webb added 17. Webb also chipped in with a game-changing 30 assists. Vogel posted a game-high five aces.
-Starkey led the Owls with 20 kills while Simpkins added 12 in the setback. Rega posted a game high 39 assists and her teammate Jess Haradon (Mansfield, Mass.) led all players with 32 digs.
-Both teams are back at Trinity College tomorrow, Saturday, September 8th. The Cougars take on Eastern Connecticut at 10:00 a.m. and Trinity at 12:00 p.m. The Owls player Eastern Connecticut at 2:00 PM and Trinity at 4:00 PM