Thatcher and Forrest Rallies Volleyball to 3-2 Triumph Against Brown

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team rallied from two sets down to defeat the Brown University Bears 3-2 in the home opener at the Holly Young Invitational Friday evening.

The set scores against Brown (0-1, 0-0 Ivy) were 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-19, and 15-8.

New Hampshire (3-2, 0-0 America East) was paced by Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.), tallying 16 kills in the come from behind win. Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) earned her third career double-double, accumulating 15 kills and 12 digs. Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) posted a season-high 24 digs while Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) dished out 37 assists. Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) led the team in blocking with nine, including two solo blocks. Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) aided the offense with 11 kills.

Alexandra Rieckhoff registered a double-double, earning a match-high 18 kills and 13 digs. Sarah Lucenti orchestrated the offense, tallying 23 assists while chipping in 13 digs. Kathryn Conner led the defense with 20 digs. Maddie Lord and Thea Derrough were each in double-digits for kills with 15 and 11 respectively.

In the opening set, the Bears sparked out to a 6-2 lead, powered by a pair of kills from Lord. After exchanging the next few points, Brown created more separation, increasing the lead to 14-8.

Following a UNH timeout, the Wildcats chipped away at the Bears' lead, narrowing it to 22-19. Four different 'Cats contributed kills, following the timeout. Brown proceeded with a timeout to stop the momentum. The Bears regrouped as Rieckhoff tallied a kill and an ace while Lord chipped in a kill of her own to take set one 25-19.

In the second stanza, the Bears again jumped out to a 6-2 lead, registering four unanswered points. Brown increased the margin to seven, powered by a pair of kills and a service ace from Lord. The 'Cats battled back, taking six out of the next seven points, highlighted by an ace from Lightfoot and a kill from Cassidy Croci (Sylvania, Ohio).

After a Brown timeout, the match remained close as each team exchanged points at 17-15 in favor of the Bears. Lord spearheaded a three-point streak with a pair of aces to force a New Hampshire timeout at 20-15. A pair of points from Forrest would narrow the deficit but the Bears captured four of the last six points to take set two 25-19.

Dunklau was able to start the Wildcats in the third set, dishing out a pair of assists and tallying an ace. New Hampshire built the lead up four at 6-2 with a pair of kills from Thatcher. The Wildcats were able to stretch their lead to eight at 16-8, their largest lead of the night.

Despite the effort, the Bears battled back, taking seven of the next eight points. Tolliver was able to redirect the 'Cats attack momentarily, tallying a pair of kills and a block. New Hampshire clung on to a one point lead at 21-20 late in the set. Forrest was able to power UNH to the next three points and eventually take the set 25-22. 

Opening the fourth set, each side remained tied at four all. A pair of kills from Brinkman gave UNH an early edge. Tolliver strung together a trio of kills followed up by Forrest to aid the 'Cats to lead 12-6, forcing a Brown timeout. New Hampshire maintained a sizable lead, entering the latter half of the set. However, the Wildcats found themselves up by just three at 18-15. Coming out of the timeout, the 'Cats were able to force a fifth set, by a score of 25-19.

New Hampshire pounced on the Browns in the final set, sprinting out to a 10-3 lead. Brown came back with five unanswered points, narrowing the lead to just two. However, kills from Thatcher and Brinkman sealed the comeback and the deciding set, 15-10. 

The second day of the Holly Young Invitational will continue tomorrow. Missouri State and Brown will be the first game starting at 10 a.m. New Hampshire will take the court again as they will clash with St. John's beginning at 12:30 p.m. The Red Storm will remain on the court, as they will play consecutive games, facing Missouri State at 4:30 p.m. The Wildcats will have the final match of the tournament in the "Pack the Arena" game, taking on Missouri State at 7 p.m.

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