NEWARK, Del. -- Dominating from the opening point, the University of Delaware volleyball team sent its seniors off in style, defeating Northeastern, 3-0, on Senior Night to reclaim first place in the Colonial Athletic Association Saturday night at Viera Court.
Set scores for the match were 25-17, 25-15, and 2-14.
The Blue Hens (16-12, 9-3 CAA) control their own destiny in the fight for home court in the upcoming CAA Tournament later this month. Northeastern (19-5, 9-3 CAA), which hadn’t lost since its last meeting with Delaware on September 30, fell behind the Blue Hens in the standings due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The win was Delaware’s eighth straight against Northeastern. The Blue Hens haven’t lost to the Huskies since October 14, 2007, including wins in the 2008 and 2010 CAA Tournament championship matches.
“We were pretty good tonight,” head coach Bonnie Kenny said after the dominating performance. “What a tribute to Kim Stewart and Renee Tomko. Senior Night can be emotional but I thought it was passionate. I thought that was the difference. I like how we played. I thought our serving and our blocking was the difference.”
For the second night in a row it was a strong defensive effort that led the Blue Hens to victory. They only allowed the Huskies to hit .046 for the match, including a negative .067 in the second set. In all, Delaware posted nine blocks to Northeastern’s four.
On the flip side of the net, Delaware hit .319 on the match led by Chelsea Lawrence and Alissa Alker. Lawrence did not commit an error again, making it a clean slate for the weekend. She finished with a match-high 11 kills on 16 attempts, hitting .688 on the night. Alker ended with 10 kills and a .308 hitting percentage.
Katie Hank added nine kills for the Blue Hens as Stewart (below right) contributed six kills and nine digs. Tomko (above right) finished the match strong by dishing out 35 assists while adding six digs and five service aces.
“It was an awesome way to end my home career here,” said an enthused Tomko. “Hopefully if we keep playing this well we can host (the CAA Tournament), but that’s never guaranteed. It was a really great experience and I really appreciate everything, the fans, my team, everything. It was awesome.”
The tone of the match was set in the first five points of the night, all won by Delaware. Tomko served up two aces during the run, while two errors on NU and a kill by Alker made it 5-0. Eight points later, the score was in Delaware’s favor even more, as the Hens sprinted out to an 11-3 lead. The set and the match was all UD from there.
Four Blue Hens finished with one solo block as Hank, Tomko, Stewart, and Karina Evans were a force at the net. Tomko and Lawrence also had their hands on three block assists.
The match was won by Kenny’s forte - serving and passing. Delaware finished with seven aces on the night as Evans and Hank also added to Tomko’s five. But it was more than the aces that showed on the court. The good serving led to bad NU passing, which gave Delaware numerous free balls to attack.
The straight set victory was the perfect way to send the seniors off.
“Its unreal how fast these past four years have gone,” Stewart said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m still a freshman. The crowd we had tonight was so supportive. We played a great game for them tonight. I hope that we still got a couple more matches here with hosting the tournament. It’s been a great experience here and I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”
Delaware has one final weekend to play in the regular season as they head to Virginia to face James Madison on Friday at 7 p.m. and George Mason on Saturday at 5 p.m. With two victories, the Blue Hens will return to Viera Court to host the CAA Tournament Nov. 18-20.
Delaware def. Northeastern, 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-14)
Delaware (kills-assists-digs): Hank (9-0-0); Tomko (0-35-6); Stewart (6-2-9); Alker (10-0-11); Lawrence (11-0-1); Evans (3-0-0); Rosehill (0-0-12); Reigel (0-0-0); Walton (0-0-5)
Northeastern: Briner (3-12-3); Bishop (5-0-0); Tucker (5-1-10); Kamenova (1-17-0); Kurz (8-0-2); Bacon (6-0-8); Marta (0-0-0); Kehoe (0-0-0); Ciszek (1-0-0); Skiba (0-0-11); Armstrong (2-0-0); Hollis (0-0-0).
Total Team Blocks: Delaware 9; Northeastern 4