POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Mackenzie Stephens (Holland, Mich.) and Courtney Shaw (Centennial, Colo.) both set career-highs in kills, but the Marist volleyball team lost a tough 3-2 (23-25, 24-26, 26-24, 25-20, 17-15) decision to Manhattan at McCann Arena in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) opener.

Stephens finished with a match-high 27 kills and also had eight blocks, including three solo. Shaw also had 18 kills, besting her previous career high of 16, to go along with four blocks. Kelsey Lahey (Bowling Green, Ohio) was also in double figures win kills with 10. Audra Brady (Allentown, Pa.) set a career-high with 62 assists and completed the double-double by tying her personal best with 17 digs. Brooke Zywick (Garden City, Mich.) led all players with 27 digs and Gena Russo (Rensselaer, N.Y.) and Lexi Millington (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) were also in double figures with 16 and 10, respectively. The match featured 39 total ties and 14 lead changes.

The first set was a sign of things to come as the score was still tied at 13 before a small 3-0 run by Marist (6-5, 0-1 MAAC) gave the home team a small cushion. In the run, two Stephens’ kills sandwiched a Millington service ace. Manhattan (7-6, 1-0 MAAC) closed to within one at 23-22, but two kills by Shaw gave the Red Foxes the set win 25-23. Stephens and Shaw both led the Marist offense with five kills in the first set, while Zywick had seven digs, defensively.

The Red Foxes jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 3-1 early in the second set, on the back of kills by Stephens, Brady and Becca Jones (Arlington, Va.). Manhattan, however, went on a 12-4 run to take a 13-7 lead and force a Marist timeout. Out of the break, the Red Foxes went on a 9-3 run of their own to tie the score at 16. Stephens and Lahey led the charge with two kills apiece and Brady also added a kills and two blocks. After the Jaspers took another three-point lead at 21-18, a block from Stephens and Grace Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and three consecutive kills by Stephens helped give Marist a 23-21 advantage. Manhattan fought off a set point from the Red Foxes, forcing another tie at 24-24, but back-to-back kills from Stephens and Brady put the set away and gave Marist a 2-0 lead in the match. Stephens led all players with an impressive eight kills in the second set.

The third set started out much like the second as Marist jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 4-1. Shaw led the early run with two kills while Stephens added another of her own and teamed up with Hill for another block. Manhattan eventually fought back, with three straight kills, to tie the score at nine. The Red Foxes used three consecutive points of their own - on another Stephens’ kill, a Jaspers’ error and a block from Marisa Gilbert (Pflugerville, Texas) and Lahey – to take a 17-14 lead. The Jaspers came right back again to tie the score at 19. A kill by Stephens gave Marist match point at 24-22, but the Manhattan scored four straight points to win the set 26-24 and extend the match. Shaw led the Red Foxes with six kills in the set, while Stephens added another five and Zywick had another seven digs on defense.

The fourth set was yet another tight one, but the Red Foxes used a 5-0 run to eliminate a two-point deficit and take a 15-12 lead. Lahey led the charge with two kills and Stephens added one of her own. Manhattan came right back to tie the score at 16 and, with the score still tied at 19, scored six of the final seven points to win the set and tie the match at two sets apiece. Stephens led Marist with five kills in the set and Lahey added four.

The Red Foxes exploded out to a 6-1 lead in the deciding fifth set, on the back of a kill and solo block from Stephens and an ace by Millington. Manhattan cut the lead to one at 9-8, but Marist opened up a three-point lead at 12-9 on three kills by Shaw. A kill by Stephens gave the Red Foxes another match point at 14-12, but the Jaspers responded with a kill and a block to tie things back up at 14. A kill by Brady fought off a match point for Marist, but two straight Marist errors gave Manhattan the 17-15 set win and the match.

Marist is right back in MAAC action on Sunday as the Red Foxes host Iona in another 1 p.m. match at McCann Arena. Admission is free to the public.

Notes – With her 18th dig on Saturday, Zywick became just the fourth player in Marist history to achieve 1,000 digs in her career. She currently has 1,009 digs in her 2+ seasons and is just two digs behind Joanna Foss (2012) for third all-time.

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