Cardinals push Spartans to five sets before falling 3-2

WASHINGTON – Down two games to none against a very strong York squad, the CUA volleyball team unleashed a furious rally to push its match vs. the Spartans to five games.  But in the end York outlasted the Cardinals 3-2 on Wednesday evening inside DuFour Gymnasium.

Following Wednesday’s action CUA sits at 13-11 on the season while York wins its 23rd match of the season and is now 23-2.

“This is a good match for us because it helps build our confidence,” Nagy Abdelrazek, CUA’s head coach said afterwards.  “I thought we played ok.  We’re missing Bridget Kulesh tonight and that hurt us.  But we were able to stretch it to five games so that was good to see.”

He continued, “York is a great team, give them credit; this was a good experience for us, particularly with conference play coming up this weekend.”

The first set of the night was a tightly contested affair as the teams were tied at four in the early going.  York then reeled off three straight points to take a 7-4 lead and the Spartans advantage eventually grew to be 13-7.  CUA trimmed the visitors lead to just two at 16-14, but two straight York points made it 18-14 before the Cardinals called a timeout.

Following the stoppage York went up 20-16, but CUA scored three straight to move within one at 20-19.  The Spartans were able to shake free of the Cardinals though, as they scored five straight to take the opening set 25-19.

In the second set York had its way with the Cardinals, opening up a 10-4 lead in the early going.  CUA got to within 11-8, but soon after the Cardinals found themselves down 17-9.  York kept the pressure on and pulled away for a 25-14 victory.

“The first two sets we did not play very well,” Abdelrazek said.  “I think part of that is carry over from the weekend.  We need to come out with a fresh mindset and understand that no matter how well we played over the weekend, this is a new start.”

In the third set, it looked as though CUA would get swept as it trailed 5-1 out of the gate.  Unfazed, the Cardinals remained calm and began chipping away at the Spartans lead.  CUA eventually tied things at nine, but York rattled off five of the next seven points to take a 14-12 lead.

York continued to maintain a lead as the set moved along, but CUA remained close, getting to within 17-16.  The Spartans increased their lead to 20-16, but after a Cardinals timeout, CUA was right back on York’s heels at 22-19.  The Spartans then scored two of the next four points to take a 24-21 lead, but again the Cardinals fought back, tying things at 24 with three straight points.

York was forced to call a timeout, but CUA had the momentum on its side and rode that to two straight points and an exciting 26-24 win.

CUA came out strong in the fourth set as it opened up an early 9-6 lead, and forced York to call a timeout.  CUA’s lead then swelled to 15-9, and eventually the lead grew to eight at 20-12.  The Spartans called yet another timeout and came out of the break by scoring three straight to get within five at 20-15.  CUA put the finishing touches on the set however with five of the next eight points to emerge with a 25-18 win.

In the deciding set York took an early 4-3 lead but CUA answered with the next point to tie things at four.  The Spartans went on a 4-0 run to open up an 8-4 lead, and moments later CUA was in a 12-6 hole.  The Cardinals called timeout and made things very interesting as they closed to within 14-11, but York was able to finally shake a determined CUA squad with a 15-11 win in the fifth set.

Claudia Jean once again posted a double-double for CUA with 18 kills and 21 digs, while Kristina Purcell tallied 23 digs.  Michaela Carroll led the Cardinals with 32 assists to go along with ten digs and Katie Chefalas added eight kills and 13 digs.

In addition, Katrina Baccetti recorded six kills and Kristen Shoeffling totaled seven digs.

For York, Alysse Beshore tallied a team-high 13 kills, while Cortni Rentzel notched a team-best 29 assists.  As a team the Spartans registered 12 blocks, led by Beshore who had six.

The Cardinals will return to action this weekend when CUA moves back into Landmark Conference play with a trio of matches.  Action gets underway on Saturday when the Cardinals take on Merchant Marine Academy beginning at 1:00.

“We had a good comeback in the third game tonight,” Abdelrazek said.  “And to stretch it to five games is a positive.  I feel good about the weekend coming up.  The way we’re playing right now, we’re doing a lot of good things.  Our players just need to learn from their mistakes and come back to practice tomorrow ready to work.”

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