Blue Hens Fall to Virginia Tech, 3-0, in First Round of NCAA Championship
December 3, 2010
Action Photos Courtesy of Christopher Shannon
Team Photo Below Courtesy of Cindy Gregory
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - - A tremendous season, and an even greater career for the University of Delaware volleyball team’s seniors came to an end, as the Blue Hens fell to Virginia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship on Friday, held in Rec Hall on the campus of Penn State. Set scores for the match were 17-25, 23-25, and 18-25.
Delaware (26-6) was led by sophomore Alissa Alker who tallied 15 kills on 31 swings and a .419 hitting percentage. Senior Jess Chason finished with 29 assists while classmate Greta Gibboney (at right) ended with a match high 17 digs.
“We are a better team then we played tonight and I give Virginia Tech a lot of credit for making us play the way we did,” said head coach Bonnie Kenny in the post game press conference.
The Hokies (20-11) move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament to play the winner of the Penn State/Niagara game that followed. The Hokies were led by Cara Baarendse who finished with 12 kills. Felicia Willoughby tallied 11 kills while Victoria Hamsher ended with 10. Erin Leaser had a match high 38 assists while Morgan O’Neill recorded 16 digs.
The Blue Hens got off to a slow start in the first set, falling behind 7-2, forcing Kenny into calling an early timeout. After the short break, the Blue Hens still could not find their rhythm in the opening frame, as a block assist by the Hokies extended their lead to 16-8, causing Kenny into calling the final timeout. Virginia Tech continued to keep the pressure on, but the Hens made a patented late set run, cutting an 11 point deficit to as close as seven. That would be as close as the Hens would get in the set, as a kill by Baarendse ended the game, 25-17.
Delaware seemed to be back to its regular season self, jumping out to a 6-2 lead in the early part of the game after a kill from Karina Evans. But back game the Hokies, charging back to take leads at 7-6, and again at 8-7. Virginia Tech stretched the lead to 11-9 before the teams traded the next 10 points, as an attack error by the Hokies tied the match at 15-15. Kills by Alker and Erickson regained the lead for the Hens at 17-15. But the Hokies scored the four of the next five points, as the Hokies took the lead for good in the set. Another three point run for the Hokies extended their lead to 23-19. The Blue Hens attempt at a late comeback was cut short at 23-22, as a ball handling error gave the Hokies set point. Cara Baarendse finished the second set with a kill, 25-23.
The third set was a back and forth affair through the first 12 points before the Hokies took a hold of the lead at 7-6. It was a lead they would not relinquish. The Hens kept it close through the middle portion of the set, before Virginia Tech opened as big a lead as five point, multiple point through the set. Following the media timeout as the Hokies reached 15 points, the team from Blacksburg tacked on four of the next six points to open up a 19-13 lead. Following a Kenny timeout while trailing 20-13, the Hokies closed the match scoring five of the remaining 10 points.
Gibboney, a Huntingdon, Pa., native who grew up attending Penn State camps, was looking forward to returning home, but was looking for a much better outcome.
“It was something I looked forward to a lot,” an emotional Gibboney said after the match. “Although the outcome wasn’t what I was looking for, it was great to finish here in this area in front of everyone who has helped me get to this point.” She even mentioned that Penn State coaching staff told her “this gym is yours just as much as it is ours.”
The game was the conclusion of the career for four outstanding student-athletes, as Paige Erickson, Dennehy, Gibboney and Chason closed out their senior season. The senior class won three Colonial Athletic Association Championships and helped guide the 2007 team to Delaware’s first NCAA Championship win when they defeated Princeton in the first round.
“We have a team with a lot of heart,” Alker (at left) said. “We have to take away the whole experience of being in the NCAA’s, even not getting the respect we deserve coming from the CAA.”
“I’m proud of this team,” Kenny added. “They have done a lot of firsts. I’m disappointed we weren’t prepared and that’s on me. These four seniors have been pillars for this program. The way Alissa played tonight, she can carry this program. Now she will have a big load on her back after losing these four seniors. This is a tough way to end.”
Virginia Tech def. Delaware 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-18)
Delaware (kills-assists-digs): Erickson (5-0-0), Stewart (4-1-10), Dennehy (6-0-5), Chason (2-29-4), Alker (15-1-7), Evans (3-0-0), Rosehill (0-0-0), Hank (1-0-0), Gibboney (0-1-17), Lawrence (0-0-0), Sebastian (1-0-0)
Virginia Tech: Leaser (3-38-8), Record (8-1-6), Baarendse (12-1-4), Wengrenovich (0-0-11), Hamsher (10-0-1), Willoughby (11-1-2), Wiker (4-1-2), Higareda (0-1-4), O’Neill (0-1-16)
Total Team Blocks: Delaware – 2, Virginia Tech 8.5
Back To Volleyball Home Volleyball Story Archive