Volleyball Splits Pair to Conclude Lehigh Classic

BETHLEHEM, Pa. The University of New Hampshire volleyball team concluded play at the Lehigh Classic splitting the final two games. Rhode Island outlasted the Wildcats in five sets but New Hampshire prevailed against Saint Peter's in straight sets at Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall Saturday afternoon. 

The set scores against Rhode Island (2-0, 0-0 A10) were 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 17-25 and 11-15, while the set scores against Saint Peter's (0-3, 0-0 MAAC) were 125-14, 25-13 and 25-21.

Against the Rams, Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) posted her second double-double in as many games, registering 16 kills and 19 digs in the match. Morgan Thatcher also had 16 kills while chipping in seven digs and two block assists in the loss. Taylor Dunklau (Mukowonago, Wis.) powered the offense, tallying 30 assists. Destiny Tolliver and Brenna Buckwalter (Evergreen, Colo.) spearheaded the defensive effort each registering six block assists and four kills.

Competing against the Peacocks, Thatcher paced all 'Cats offensively with 10 kills while contributing six digs in the victory. Forrest and Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.) registered seven and six kills respectively. Tolliver tallied four solo blocks and a service ace while Dunklau distributed 27 assists in the match. 

New Hampshire (2-1, 0-0 America East) remains undefeated against Saint Peter's (4-0), while trailing in the series against Rhode Island (2-20).

In the first set against the Rams, New Hampshire jumped out to an 8-4 lead. Rhode Island battled back, stringing together six unanswered points to give the Rams a 10-8 advantage. Buckwalter, Forrest and Thatcher aided UNH to come back in the set and recapture the lead. Rhode Island temporarily held the lead late in the set, but the Wildcats captured four of the last five points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

New Hampshire held the early 8-5 advantage in the second stanza, sparked by Forrest and Thatcher with a pair of kills respectively. Rhode Island responded with a streak of six straight points, giving the Rams an 11-8 edge. The 'Cats were able to even the score at 16 all late in the set. However, the Rams captured nine of the last 16 points to tie the game at one. 

The Wildcats continued their strong play early in the third set, bolting out to a 9-5 lead. Rhode Island kept the score close; leveling the set score seven times occasions throughout the third stanza. Despite the Rams efforts, UNH regained the match lead, taking the set 25-22.

Rhode Island responded in the fourth set, building an 8-4 advantage early. The 'Cats battled back, getting within two with a pair of kills by Forrest. Despite the rally, Rhode Island kept New Hampshire at bay, to take the fourth set 25-17. 

In the second consecutive fifth set played in as many days, the Wildcats looked to prevail once again. New Hampshire kept it close early in the set with offensive help from Forrest, Thatcher and Tolliver. However, Rhode Island maintained the lead throughout the fifth set by a score of 15-11 and earning the match win of 3-2, giving UNH their first loss of the season.

After surrendering the first point in the set against the Peacocks, the Wildcats took the lead and never looked back. Taking 10 of the first 15 points, the start was highlighted by back-to-back aces. Forrest and Thatcher provided the firepower, each registering four kills in the opening set. New Hampshire's lead shrunk to four at 14-10, but the 'Cats then distanced themselves from the Peacocks to take set one, 25-14.

Saint Peter's took an early lead in the second stanza but the Wildcats quickly regained control. Stringing together streaks of five and six points, the 'Cats held a 13-6 edge. Forrest and Muses each converted three kills in the second set. Leading 16-10, New Hampshire captured nine of the last 12 points to take the second set 25-13. 

The Peacocks battled closely in the third and final set as it featured five lead changes. Thatcher led the set, sparking the Wildcats' offense with four kills while Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) assisted with back-to-back aces. Tied at 18 entering the end of the stanza, Buckwalter, Muses and Tolliver were able to lift the Wildcats to a three set victory.

New Hampshire will remain on the road, as they will partake in a midweek contest against Northeastern on Tuesday, September 3 at 7 p.m.

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