NEWARK, Del. (September 9, 2017) – The Franklin Pierce University volleyball team concluded play at the 2017 Wildcat Invitational hosted by Wilmington University and the WU Athletics Complex Saturday. FPU suffered two setbacks on their final day of competition first falling to Chestnut Hill College 3-2 (23-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-20, 12-15) and then dropping a 3-1 (19-25, 25-27, 25-23, 20-25) duel to the host Wildcats. Both losses sent the Ravens to 2-6 on the year while the Griffins earned the first win and Wilmington evened their mark at 4-4.
Senior middle blocker Hannah St. Jean (Olympia, Wash.) was the Raven representative on the All-Tournament team as the team captain finished the weekend with 36 kills, a team-best .225 hitting percentage, a squad-high 14 total blocks, seven digs and two service aces.
Danielle Varricchio (Boynton Beach, Fla.) recorded 41 kills, 66 digs, five assists and three blocks over the weekend tournament. Ofeira Petaia (Honolulu, Hawaii) added 26 kills, 50 digs, eight blocks and team-high eight service aces. Defensive specialist Brittney Carias (Burlingame, Fla.) chipped in 25 kills, 78 digs, 12 assists and five service aces. Setter Hannah Runge (Deltona, Fla.) dished out 119 assists across the four days and Jocelyn Moody (Biddeford, Maine) led all Ravens with 100 digs.
Game One: Chestnut Hill 3, Franklin Pierce 2 (23-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-20, 12-15)
The first match of the afternoon was an even affair as the Ravens held the advantage in hitting percentage and service aces while the Griffins blocked more attempted attacks than the Crimson and Grey.
Chestnut Hill held a 2-0 set lead after winning the first and second sets by a combined seven markers. Franklin Pierce rallied to take the third set as they moved in front by four, 14-10 following an Ofeira Petaia kill. Corrine Kalala and Kara Turtzer brought their squad within two at 14-12, but the Ravens rebounded using a 6-1 scoring binge to take control of the set 20-13. The Ravens would build their lead to eight after a Danielle Varricchio kill and won the set by seven 25-18.
The Griffins jumped ahead 2-0 off a Raven bad set and a Reily Byxbee ace in the early stages of the important fourth set. Franklin Pierce strung together four in a row to recapture the lead at 4-2 due to a block of Kalala by Ofeira Petaia and Abigail Garnhart (Colorado Springs, Colo.). The Ravens kept adding on their lead with stretches of three, two and two points to make the score 15-8 midway through the set. Kalala notched a kill from Kennedy Sutton to cut their deficit to five, 16-11. However, FPU would chip in a 5-1 run to give the Crimson and Grey their largest lead of the set at 21-12. Trialing by nine, CHC went on a scoring binge of their own bring the Raven advantage back down to five following a block from Cassie Callahan and Kennedy Sutton. The Raven lead stayed at five through the remainder of the set as a Varricchio kill sent the match into the fifth and deciding set.
In set five, the Griffins racked up the first five points all with Peyton Reno serving before FPU finally got on the board as Reno mis-served her sixth service of the extra frame. Reily Byxbee upped the CHC score to 9-2 on the strength of a block. Looking to rally, the Ravens went on an 8-3 run to pull within two at 12-10 following two attack errors, but they couldn't close the gap any further as the Griffins brought home the set 15-12 and the victory.
Cirrine Kalala of Chestnut Hill led all players with a match-best 19 kills. For the Ravens, three players recorded double digit kills as Danielle Varricchio tallied 13 kills and 21 digs. Defensive specialist Brittney Carias racked up 12 kills, 15 digs, four assists and three service aces. Hannah St. Jean added 10 kills, five total blocks and five digs. Jocelyn Moody led all players with 28 digs while Hannah Runge dished out a team-high 33 assists and Ofeira Petaia stuffed a match-high six total blocks.
Game Two: Wilmington (Del.) 3, Franklin Pierce 1 (19-25, 25-27, 25-23, 20-25)
Hannah St. Jean matched a personal-high with a 16 kill performance while hitting .308 in the contest. Danielle Varricchio poured in eight kills and 20 digs while Hannah Runge tallied six kills, 38 assists, 14 digs and four aces. Wilmington had two players who had 10+ kills.
Wilmington held an early 5-1 advantage off a block by Rebecca Rawlinson. Franklin Pierce cut their lead in half at 7-5 following an ace from Hannah Runge. Only holding a two point lead, the Wildcats ran out ahead 14-5 by notching seven markers in a row with three straight coming by the way of Mandy Behiels service aces. Behind by eight at 17-9, Franklin Pierce used four straight before the hosts upped the lead to six, 20-14. Following an attack error, Runge placed two serves near Behiels who couldn't dig the ball as the Ravens trailed by two. The Wildcats would put the set on ice scoring five points to the Ravens one over the remaining serves.
The hosts started off fast again and led early on 4-1 before FPU rallied with six consecutive points to take a 7-4 advantage. Wilmington pushed ahead 10-8 after a Raven attack error. Both squads swapped points late and the Ravens tied up the set at 22-22 as Runge recorded another ace. The teams keep matching each other as the Wildcats couldn't put away the match on set point. With the set tied Carias received a bump from Runge and successfully killed an attempt to put the Ravens on the brink of a second set victory. Wilmington would score the final three points with the dagger bring a Genevieve Hughes ace.
After two slow starts in the first two sets, the Ravens started off fast in set three jumping out in front 3-0 until Wilmington tied up the duel with three straight of their own. The Crimson and Grey responded by going on a 7-0 binge of their own with Oferia Petaia serving to move ahead 10-3. Trailing by seven, Wilmington would storm back into the set 14-12 thanks to a kill by Eile Harris. The Ravens upped their lead back to four before the Wildcats would come within one point. Franklin Pierce would score five points to the hosts' one across the next few possessions which put FPU two points away from a third set victory. Wilmington tallied five straight to knot the score at 23 all due to a ball handling error. Looking for an eighth consecutive marker, Jill Braunsberg committed a service error to put the Ravens one point away from a win. Ofeira Petaia captured set point for FPU by killing off an assist by Runge.
In the early stages of the fifth set the Ravens were up 5-3 until a dual block from Rebecca Rawlinson and Deja Stanek pushed the hosts back in the lead at 10-7. The Ravens briefly stole back momentum thanks to a St. Jean kill as they led by one midway through the set. Over the next five serves, the hosts recorded four points to the Ravens one to move back ahead by two, 18-16. Franklin Pierce tied the set up once again at 19-19 off St. Jean's 15th kill of the match. Wilmington would tally six points and FPU could only muster one more as the Wildcats won the set 25-20 and the match 3-1.
The Ravens head back home to Rindge and will open their home schedule on Friday when they welcome non-conference opponent Bridgeport to campus for a 7:00 p.m. showdown.
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).