Wildcats Defeated by Villanova and George Mason at Maryland Tourney

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team concludes the Maryland tournament, falling to Villanova and George Mason at the Comcast Pavilion Saturday afternoon. 

Set scores against Villanova were 19-25, 20-25 and 19-25. Against George Mason, the set scores were 25-16, 20-25, 29-31 and 13-15.   

In the match against Villanova, Maryland Tournament All-Tournament mention Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) led the offense with nine kills. Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) chipped in six kills while tallying a game-high five block assists. Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) dished out 19 assists while Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) registered 13 digs in the losing effort. 

Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.) tallied career-best marks of 14 kills and a .423 hitting percentage against the Patriots. Thatcher contributed 13 kills and eight digs in the four set loss. Dunklau orchestrated the attack, distributing 40 assists while chipping in eight digs and a pair of service aces. Lightfoot paced the defensive effort, accumulating 17 digs. 

New Hampshire (5-5, 0-0 America East) and Villanova (4-4, 0-0 Big East) exchanged the lead four times in the opening set, leveled at 14 all. A kill followed by a service ace by Villanova forced a UNH timeout as New Hampshire trailed, 16-14. The match remained close as an ace from Muses and kills from Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) and Tolliver kept New Hampshire within one. However, Villanova was able to hold on for the first set, 25-21. 

The second stanza began with both squads leveled at four. Villanova strung together five straight points, opening a 9-4 advantage. However, New Hampshire chipped away at the Villanova lead, only trailing by one, 15-14. After a Villanova timeout, the match remained close, each side exchanging a pair of points. Villanova carved out a 22-17 lead, tallying three consecutive points. Despite a service ace from Brenna Buckwalter (Evergreen, Colo.), New Hampshire dropped the second set, 25-20.

Villanova jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. However, back-to-back service aces from Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y.) and a kill from Thatcher brought UNH back to even terms at five all. After each side tallying six points apiece, Villanova captured six of the next seven. Trailing 19-15, New Hampshire took a timeout, trying to extend the match. Despite their efforts, Villanova took the deciding set, 25-19. 

In the second match against George Mason, the match started with both sides scoring five to open the set. The Wildcats then dashed out to a 14-6 advantage, scoring seven straight points. Despite a Patriots' timeout, the Wildcats comfortably took the first set, 25-16.

George Mason responded in the second set, opening an 8-3 lead. New Hampshire tried to rally, registering back-to-back kills from co-captains Tolliver and Thatcher. However, George Mason maintained a small lead midway through the set. The Patriots were able to maintain their lead, taking the second set, 25-20.

With the game tied at one, the 'Cats defense came alive, opening the third set with four block assists, leading 10-5. Thatcher was involved in all four while Muses and Tolliver registered three and one respectively. George Mason battled back, taking 10 of the next 15 points, leveling the set at 15 apiece. Following a UNH timeout, Muses sparked the Wildcats hitting, tallying four kills and pushing the Patriots to set point, 24-21. Once again, George Mason rallied and tying the set at 24. Despite kills from Thatcher and Tolliver, the Patriots edged out the Wildcats in set three, 31-29. 

New Hampshire fell behind in the fourth set, 10-5. George Mason kept the pressure on, building their lead to 19-8 as the Wildcats tried to regroup. Thatcher tallied an ace and a kill, reducing the deficit to seven. However, George Mason strung together five straight points, closing the deciding set, 25-13 and winning the match 3-1.

The Wildcats will seek to rally back in the Granite State, participating in the Dartmouth Duel. New Hampshire will compete against the host Big Green, Connecticut, No. 4 Minnesota and Rhode Island. The 'Cats will take on the Huskies and Gophers on Friday, Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. respectively. New Hampshire will compete against Rhode Island and Dartmouth Saturday, Sept. 21. The match against the Rams will start at 9:30 a.m. while the game against the Big Green will begin at 2:30 p.m.

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