EASTON, Pa. – The Marist volleyball team used a strong team effort to roll to a 3-1 (25-15, 17-25, 25-16, 25-22) victory over Lafayette in the first match of the Crosstown Tournament, hosted by Lafayette and Lehigh. It was the fourth consecutive win for the Red Foxes and ended the Leopards’ six-match winning streak.
Mackenzie Stephens (Holland, Mich.) led all players in the match with 14 kills, and also tied for the team lead with three blocks, including one solo. Marisa Gilbert (Pflugerville, Texas) also had three blocks and was second in kills with nine while Courtney Shaw (Centennial, Colo.) had eight kills. Becca Jones (Arlington, Va.) finished with seven kills and was second with 18 digs, behind only Brooke Zywick (Garden City, Mich.) who led Marist with 19. Audra Brady (Allentown, Pa.) finished with a double-double with 43 assists and 11 digs. Gena Russo (Rensselaer, N.Y.) was also in double figures with 10 digs.
The first set was tight until Marist (5-3) went on a 5-0 run to expand its lead to six at 12-6. Gilbert led the charge with two kills while Brady and Grace Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.) each added a kill. After a pair of Lafayette (6-2) points closed cut the Red Foxes’ lead to five, another streak of four consecutive points brought Marist’s lead to nine at 17-8. Shaw started the run with a kill and, following a Lafayette error, Gilbert finished it with back-to-back service aces. The Red Foxes scored four of the final five points of the set, on two more errors by Lafayette and individual kills by Gilbert and Hill, to win the opening set 25-15. Stephens had six kills on seven attack attempts with zero errors for a .857 hitting percentage in the set. Gilbert was even better, finishing the set with four kills and a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage.
Stephens continued her momentum into the second set, scoring the first two points on a pair of kills. Lafayette, however, immediately responded with a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead. After Marist cut the deficit to two at 14-12, Lafayette went on another run, scoring 11 of 16 points to win the set 25-17 and tie the match. Stephens had four more kills to lead the Red Foxes in the second set and give her a match-high 10 kills at the midway point.
Lafayette jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 5-2 in the second set, but three straight points, including another Stephens’ kill and an ace by Jones, knotted the score at 5-5. It was still tied 16-16, when the Red Foxes went on the biggest run of the match, rattling off nine straight points to close out the set at 25-16. Jones led the way with three kills in the streak and had a combo block with Gilbert. Russo had two aces, including the one that clinched the set.
The Red Foxes continued their strong play into the fourth set, taking a commanding 11-2 lead on the back of another 8-0 run. Five different players had one kill for Marist and Zywick had two service aces. Hill and Gilbert also teamed up for a block. Marist still had a lead at 22-14 and held off a late charge as Lafayette went on an 8-1 run to close within 23-21. Kills by Shaw and Stephens finished off the set and gave the Red Foxes their fourth consecutive victory. Shaw finished the set with a team-high five kills while Jones had two kills and led the Red Foxes with seven digs.
The Red Foxes cross over to Lehigh’s home court on Saturday for two matches to close out the Crosstown Tournament. They will take on St. Francis (N.Y.) at 12:30 p.m. and the Mountain Hawks at 4 p.m. Both matches on Saturday will feature live stats and the Marist’s 4 p.m. match will also be streamed for free online.