CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Senior right side hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) tallied a match-high 15 kills and four blocks, rallying the University of New Hampshire volleyball team to a 3-2 win over Harvard at Malkin Athletic Center Tuesday night.
The line scores of the match were 24-26, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23 and 15-13. This marks the fourth consecutive match between the two institutions that the Crimson and Wildcats have gone to five sets.
Outside hitter Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) posted her fifth career double-double, registering 14 kills and 18 digs for New Hampshire (6-10, 0-0 America East). Setter Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) eclipsed 50 assists for the second time this season, dishing out 51 in the victory. Additionally, Dunklau set a new career-high, tossing up four service aces. Defensive setter Madison Lightfoot (Clarkson, Mich.) also set a new career-high, registering 25 digs.
Harvard (5-4, 0-0 Ivy) was paced offensively by Caroline Holte and Jennifer Shults with 12 kills apiece. Corinne Bain orchestrated the attack, accumulating 42 assists in the loss. Sindhu Vegesena led the defensive effort, tallying 25 digs. Kristen Casey assisted the effort, posting 19 digs and seven kills on the night.
In the opening set, the Crimson jumped out to a 7-3 lead, forcing a UNH timeout. Following the stoppage, the Wildcats rifled off six of the next eight points, leveling the score at nine all. After exchanging the next 10 points, Harvard carved out a two-point edge, earning kills from Kristen Casey and Grace Weghorst. The Crimson tacked on two more points, tallying a service ace from Hannah Schmidt and a kill from Corinne Bain. However, the 'Cats rallied back, tying the match at 22, highlighted by a group block from Thatcher and Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.). Following a Harvard timeout, the Crimson were able to regroup and edge out New Hampshire in the set, 26-24.
Neither side could jump out to a significant lead to open the second stanza. New Hampshire held a 13-10 advantage midway through the second set, earning points from a Lightfoot ace and a Tolliver kill. The Crimson battled their way back, knotting the score at 16, forcing UNH to take a timeout. After exchanging a pair of points, the Wildcats regained the lead as Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) registered an ace followed by a kill from Muses. Despite a Crimson timeout late in the set, Thatcher closed out the set, hitting back-to-back kills to take the second set, 25-22.
The third set opened as Harvard and New Hampshire exchanged the lead three times, as the score was leveled at nine. Harvard was able to construct a three-point lead, powered by two kills from Caroline Walters. New Hampshire quickly brought the match to even terms again, capitalizing on Crimson miscues. After a Crimson timeout, the Wildcats continued to score, tallying kills from Forrest and Dunklau. However, the Crimson responded, registering six straight points. Harvard would hold on to capture the set, 25-22 and regain the match lead, 2-1.
Once again, the match remained close to open the fourth stanza. Casey began the scoring for the Crimson, tallying a pair of kills. The Wildcats countered as Cassidy Croci (Sylvania, Ohio) accumulated three kills in succession. As the teams were leveled at seven, Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) and Forrest each tallied kills, giving UNH a small lead. Harvard clawed their way back, eventually tying the match at 15. Each side exchanged points as the score stood at 22 apiece in the latter portion of the set. An ace by Forrest followed by kills from Croci and Thatcher gave UNH the 25-22 set win, forcing one more set.
Dunklau sparked the Wildcats in the final stanza, tallying back-to-back aces. New Hampshire built a small lead midway through the fifth set, powered by a trio of kills from Thatcher. Harvard kept it close as the Crimson eventually knotted the set at 12. The Wildcats would not surrender the lead again, as kills from Croci, Forrest and Thatcher completed the come from behind victory, 15-13.
New Hampshire concludes their non-conference schedule as the Wildcats open up America East play on the road. The Wildcats take on new America East member UMass Lowell Friday, September 27 at 7:00 p.m.