Bobcats Challenge Red Flash; Celestin Establishes New Career High in 3-2 Loss to St. Francis (Pa.)

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LORETTO, Pa. – The Quinnipiac women's volleyball team has shown a marked improvement of late, challenging the NEC's first-place LIU Brooklyn in three sets in their previous game, and in a 3-2 (18-25, 26-24, 16-25, 25-22, 8-15) loss to fourth-place St. Francis (Pa.) at the DeGol Arena on Saturday. Sophomore Tanner Celestin (Norco, Calif.) posted a career-high 18 digs to go along with seven kills and three service aces while junior Bonnie Conklin (Plano, Texas) led the Bobcats with 10 kills, matching a career-high. Freshman Chandler Thornton (Arlington, Texas) nearly came away with a double-double (nine kills, 12 digs) in defeat as Quinnipiac moves to 1-19 (0-11 NEC) and the Red Flash improve to 11-13 (7-4 NEC).

Saturday's match against St. Francis (Pa.) marked the second time this season the Bobcats have pushed the opponent to a fifth set. The previous result came in Quinnipiac's 3-2 victory over Providence on Sept. 14 at the Bucknell Invitational. After falling to the Red Flash in straight sets earlier this season, the Bobcats nearly came away with their first road victory over St. Francis (Pa.) in nine attempts.

The Bobcats began the match on a hot streak as they jumped out to a 12-10 lead, including a stretch where Quinnipiac took six of seven points from the Red Flash. The two-point lead was the last Quinnipiac would see of their early advantage as St. Francis (Pa.) reeled off seven consecutive points to take the commanding lead and claimed the victory, 25-18.

The second set was a turning point in the match as the Bobcats found themselves down 7-2 early, but climbed back to even the score at 14 to induce a Red Flash timeout. Coming out of the timeout, sophomore Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C.) banged home a service ace to give Quinnipiac their first lead in the second set at 15-14. After the Red Flash reclaimed the lead, Conklin led the way with a pair of kills on a 4-0 run for Quinnipiac as the two teams continued their back-and-forth play. The teams traded blows until the score was 24-23 with the Red Flash serving for the set. Allen provided two straight kills to stave off the run and a service ace from freshman Melissa Dal Pozzo (Reading, Mass.) proved to be the decisive point in the 26-24 victory for the Bobcats.

Celestin did her best to keep Quinnipiac close in the third set. The sophomore tallied four kills and two services aces in the set alone, but couldn't pull the Bobcats out of an early 14-7 deficit. St. Francis (Pa.) went on to claim the victory at 25-16.

Several Bobcats shared the offensive load in the fourth set as the team came away with a clutch, 25-22 victory to push the match to a decisive fifth set. Allen, Conklin, Thornton, Dal Pozzo, Robinson, and Celestin each had at least one kill in the frame. The Red Flash seized momentum again early with an 8-5 lead but the Bobcats stormed back, winning 11 of the next 15 points to take a 16-12 lead halfway through the fourth. The teams traded blows before Celestin capped off a 3-0 Bobcat run with another kill to make the score 21-15 in favor of the Bobcats. St. Francis (Pa.) threatened, closing the gap to just two points, but the Bobcats prevailed with the victory. 

Finally, in the fifth set the two teams went back-and-forth early with the Bobcats hanging in as late as 5-5 before the Red Flash took command and seized 10 of the next 13 points to claim the set and match, 15-8.

Conklin's 10 kills on 24 total attempts (.333 hitting percentage) led the way for Quinnipiac to go along with a team-high three blocks. Allen was great all-around with five kills, eight digs, two blocks, and two service aces. Junior libero Logan Riker (Bowling Green, Ohio) was stellar once again for Quinnipiac with her sixth double-digit dig performance in the past seven games, finishing with 16 digs and five assists. Robinson also chipped in with 26 assists, four kills, and four digs on the afternoon.

Lauren Wingard paced the Red Flash with 15 kills and 14 digs while Elizabeth Williams also finished with a double-double in dominating fashion with 13 kills and 17 digs to go along with a game-high six blocks. Kierstin Kiser was great all afternoon from the setter position, providing 47 assists on the 58 Red Flash kills.

The Bobcats will travel to Moon Township, Pa. for tomorrow's game against Robert Morris with the match set to begin at 1 p.m.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu