Sept. 15, 2006
(Milwaukee) - It was not a thing of beauty, but USF will take its 3-1 (30-27, 26-30, 30-25, 30-25) victory against Marquette in the opening match of the 2006 Marquette Challenge Friday night at the Al McGuire Center. The Dons (10-1) captured their eighth straight win against the Golden Eagles (3-7) and defeated the tournament hosts for the second time in three opportunities.
Junior outside hitter Kristin Hasselberg led the way for the Dons offensively with 14 kills to go along with seven digs and three service aces. Sophomore middle blocker Alix Gombos added 12 kills and seven blocks. Freshman outside hitter Anna Berger came through for San Francisco with seven kills, three of them coming late in game four along with four digs and a pair of blocks.
"We came out really flat tonight and fortunately we were able to play better down the stretch when the match was on the line," USF head coach Jeff Nelson said. "Our play in the back row got better as the match went and Kristine came on strong late in game three and Anna closed game four and those were really keys for us tonight."
Freshman libero Haley Carroll tallied a match-high 26 digs, while junior outside hitter added 11 to go along with six kills, four blocks and two aces. Sophomore setter Darcy Carroll dished out 27 assists and recorded nine digs.
USF got off to a slow start in the opening game as Marquette opened up a 21-17 lead and looked to be in control. The Dons responded as Hasselberg served six straight points, including three service aces, on a 7-0 run, taking a 24-21 lead it would not surrender. The Golden Eagles held a .257-.139 hitting percentage edge.
San Francisco dug a deep hole early in game two but mounted a furious late rally, but this time Marquette held on to tie the match at 1-1. The Dons trailed 11-2 and 22-15, but fought all the way back to trail by two, 27-25 courtesy of a 10-2 run, but could not get over the hump. Gombos led USF with eight kills in the frame, while Hasselberg added three. Marquette's cause was aided considerably by five Dons service errors and 13 attack errors. The Golden Eagles managed just 11 kills and a .108 hitting rate in the second set.
Game three was not exactly a volleyball clinic as the two teams combined for 21 attack errors. The Dons jumped to an early lead as Darcy Carroll served four straight points to open it and USF led wire-to-wire. Hasselberg led the way with four kills in the frame, while Gombos chipped in three.
It is doubtful game four will make highlight videos either, but Berger helped USF break out of a 21-21 tie with three kills as the Dons took a 25-22 lead, forcing a Marquette timeout. The Golden Eagles closed to 26-25, but San Francisco went on a four-point burst to seal the win.
USF returns to action in the Marquette Challenge Saturday morning when it takes on Stony Brook at 8:30 AM (PT) and Manitoba at 2:30 PM (PT). Both matches will be held at the Al McGuire Center on the Marquette campus.