NEWARK, Del. (September 8, 2017) – The Franklin Pierce University volleyball team headed south to Wilmington University for the first day of the 2017 Wildcat Invitational which took place at the WU Athletics Complex. FPU dropped both games of their doubleheader Friday falling to Holy Family University 3-0 (16-25, 23-25, 19-25) and Jefferson University 3-1 (20-25, 26-24, 11-25, 16-25). With both losses, the Ravens drop to 2-4 early in the year while the Tigers improve to 3-2 and the Rams move to 3-4 overall.
Sophomore outside hitter Danielle Varricchio (Boynton Beach, Fla.) recorded 20 kills and 25 digs across the two contests. Freshman Ofeira Petaia (Honolulu, Hawaii) notched 15 kills and 18 digs while team captain Hannah St. Jean (Olympia, Wash.) tallied 10 kills and seven blocks. Hannah Runge (Deltona, Fla.) dished out 48 assists total in both setbacks while Brittney Carias (Burlingame, Calif.) chipped in 37 digs, seven kills and two blocks.
Game One: Holy Family 3, Franklin Pierce 0 (16-25, 23-25, 19-25)
The Tigers began the first set by pulling out in front 5-1 using back to back kills from Chase Wassel. The Ravens pulled within one at 6-5 following a set by Carias and a Runge kill. HFU reeled off four straight before a service error momentarily stopped their run. Following the miscue, the Tigers moved ahead 19-6 as the team tallied eight consecutive markers. Trailing by 13, the Ravens cut the deficit to single figures on a Runge stuff at the net, but they couldn't get any closer as they fell in set one.
Franklin Pierce netted the opening point in set two as Runge and Petaia connected on a kill. Holy Family would retake the lead, but it was short lived as the Crimson and Grey tied the score at seven all on a Tiger attack error. Wassel put her squad back up by four, 11-7 until the Ravens moved within three due to a solo block by sophomore middle blocker Abigail Garnhart (Colorado Springs, Colo.). After Garnhart's stuff an attack error by the Tigers made it a two possession set at 16-14. Trailing by four at 23-19, the Ravens rallied using a Wassel attack error, a Garnhart kill, and a Runge ace to pull within one 23-22. HFU reached match point at 24-22, but Varricchio brought FPU back at 24-23. The Ravens looked to extend the set although Wassel had other ideas as she ended the set with a kill to put Holy Family ahead 2-0 in the match.
The Ravens held a 4-2 led following a successful Varricchio attack and Tiger mistake. Holy Family jumped back into the lead by racking up six straight points with Cecilia Weir serving. Over the next few possessions, the Tigers doubled up their advantage to lead 15-7. St. Jean halted the Holy Family mini scoring binge as Franklin Pierce was successful on three straight points to pull within five, 15-10. Camile Johnson moved her teams lead back to six until the Ravens cut their lead in half at 16-13 as St. Jean capped off a scoring stretch with a block of Johnson. The Tigers upped their advantage back to six, 21-16 but the Ravens again cut the lead to two, 21-19 with four in a row all with Varricchio serving. Holy Family put the set and the match away by notching the final four points.
Danielle Varricchio led the offensive attack for FPU with a team-best 13 kills while chipping in nine digs on the defensive end. Brittney Carias held down the Ravens defense with 21 digs. Chase Wassel notched a game-high 23 kills while hitting at a .296 clip.
Game Two: Jefferson 3, Franklin Pierce 1 (20-25, 26-24, 11-25, 16-25)
Franklin Pierce used a more balanced attack in the night cap of their twinbill as three athletes' tallied six kills or more. St. Jean led the Ravens with four total blocks while adding five kills. Jocelyn Moody (Biddeford, Maine) led all players with 23 digs and three service aces.
Four players for the Rams recorded 10 kills or more as they were led by Corrinne Justus's 17 kill .500 hitting percentage performance. Jefferson outhit and outblocked the Ravens in the duel.
St. Jean began the scoring of the first set by killing off a set by Runge. Both teams traded points and the lead over the next few serves as the Ravens held an 8-5 advantage following a Carias kill. A 7-1 Ram scoring run moved them back ahead 12-9 following two straight kills and assists by the duo of Courtney Wensel and Alexandra Harrington. The Ravens brought the lead down to two, 13-11 as Varricchio killed off an attack. The Rams turned a two point lead into a five point advantage which forced FPU to stop play with a timeout. With Jefferson up by six, the Ravens needed a run to pull closer, but they could only come within four points as the Rams took the set 25-20.
Franklin Pierce started off fast in set two as they held a 7-2 lead due to the service of Moody which allowed the Ravens to score four in a row. The Crimson and Grey's advantage held at five through the middle of the set where the Rams would slowly, but surely crawl back into the set. Corrine Justus brought her squad within one at 21-20 as the Ravens stopped their opponents run with a timeout. The stoppage worked in the Ravens favor as they rattled off two key points on a Varricchio kill and Moody service ace. A ball handling error and a Justus kill tied the contest at 23 until both team swapped points to make it 24 all as extra serves were needed. With the Rams serving, the Ravens needed to make a play to regain service. St. Jean and Carias rose to the occasion and to great heights to block Justus as the Crimson and Grey needed one more point to win the set. A Wensel error gave the Ravens a 26-24 set two win, a set that they led wire to wire.
Jefferson captured momentum back with a strong third set performance as they hit a match set best .407. The Rams jumped ahead 10-3 early and never looked back as they won the set 25-11 and held an important 2-1 match lead.
FPU began set four by holding a 5-1 advantage until the Rams charged ahead by notching six in a row to make the score 7-5 in favor of Jefferson. The duo of St. Jean and Carias teamed up again for another block to bring the game to a deadlock at 8-8. However Jefferson took control of the set with an 8-2 scoring binge to recapture the lead at 16-10. The Ravens continued to rally using a team block by Garnhart and freshman setter Mary Pease (East Haddam, Conn.) and a St. Jean ace to pull within two at 16-14. Jefferson would outscore Franklin Pierce 9-2 over the remainder of the set to take the match 3-1.
The Ravens will return to the court tomorrow for the final day of the invite as they square off against Chestnut Hill at noon and the host Wildcats at 4:00 p.m.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce volleyball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).