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USF Downs Long Island 3-2 In First Round of the Blackbird Invitational

Sept. 22, 2006

Brooklyn, NY - USF opened play in the 2006 Courtyard By Marriott LaGuardia Long Island Blackbird Invitational taking a hard fought 3-2 victory (30-28, 27-30, 27-30, 30-24, 15-11) victory against host Long Island Friday at the Wellness Center. The Dons (14-1) capture their 12th straight victory against the defending Northeastern Conference Champion Blackbirds (6-8). USF also notched its ninth straight five-game win dating back to the start of 2005.

San Francisco struggled with its offensive consistency, hitting .175 for the match, but did the job at the net, owning a 16.5-13.0 blocks advantage with 11 coming in the last two games. Long Island owned a 76-59 kills advantage, the first time all season the Dons have trailed their opponents.

Junior outside hitter Brynn Maurer registered 10 kills on .318 hitting to go along with 17 digs and a career-high five blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Alix Gombos tallied 10 kills and eight blocks, while sophomore outside hitter Susan Bednarova had perhaps her best match in the Green and Gold with a season-high 11 kills and a career-high five blocks.

Sophomore setter Darcy Carroll recorded here second double-double of the season with 24 assists and a career-high 19 digs, while senior setter Jamie Kartchner tallied a team-high 27 assists to go along with seven digs. Freshman libero Haley Carroll dug 14 and added four service aces for San Francisco.

Sophomore outside hitter Anna Berger and junior outside Kristin Hasselberg added nine kills apiece for the Dons.

San Francisco dug a deep hole in game one as the Blackbirds opened on a 4-0 run with and led 8-4 before the Dons responded to take their first lead at 11-10 on the first of nine LIU service errors in the game. USF managed just 10 kills on .233 hitting in the opener, but took advantage of the Blackbird's serving woes and nine attack errors.

USF trailed 17-13 in the second frame, but roared back after an outstanding defensive save by Haley Carroll deep on the baseline, sparking a 7-1 run as the Dons seized a 20-18 lead. Long Island was unfazed as they stormed back with a 6-2 run to take a 24-22 lead it would not surrender. Sophomore outside hitter Susan Bednarova led the way for the Dons with four kills in the second, while Maurer and Gombos added three apiece.

After the intermission, Long Island seized the early lead and maintained just enough of a cushion to hold off San Francisco. The Blackbirds broke out of a 19-19 tie with a 5-1 burst and hung on to take a two games to one advantage.

With their backs against the wall and whatever other clichés might apply, the Dons found their offensive rhythm and used hot hitting and a huge block to take control early in game four, building a 21-13 lead. Following a Blackbird timeout, the Dons got three straight kills from Berger to take a 24-15 advantage. USF held Long Island to .000 hitting courtesy of eight blocks in the frame, while attacking at a .216 clip.

San Francisco sustained its momentum in the final game and broke out of a 5-5 tie with a 7-2 run and never looked back to claim its 12th straight win.

Martina Wagner led four Blackbirds in double-digit kills with 23, while Shelby Heggie added 22.

USF returns to action in the LIU Blackbird Invitational Saturday with matches against Cornell and Saint Francis (NY). First serve against the Big Red is set for 8:00 AM (PT) at the Wellness Center.