FAIRFIELD, Conn. – For the second straight match, the Marist volleyball team fought back to force a fifth set on the road, but the comeback fell just short as the Red Foxes dropped a tough 3-2 (21-25, 28-26, 25-22, 16-25, 15-12) decision in an exciting match at Fairfield Wednesday night in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) match.
Audra Brady (Allentown, Pa.) just missed out on a triple-double, finishing with 52 assists, 10 digs and eight kills. Kelsey Lahey (Bowling Green, Ohio) tied for the match-high with 15 kills, leading four Marist players who had at least 12 kills. Mackenzie Stephens (Holland, Mich.) finished with 13 kills and eight blocks while Grace Hill (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and Courtney Shaw (Centennial, Colo.) each had 12 kills and two blocks. Shaw also added eight digs while Hill had seven. Brooke Zywick (Garden City, Mich.) had a match-high with 31 digs while Lexi Millington (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Becca Jones (Arlington, Va.) each had 14 digs. Zywick also had four of Marist’s 11 service aces and Millington added three.
After Fairfield scored the first point of the opening set, Marist (10-6, 4-2 MAAC) scored the next three consecutive points on kills by Shaw and Stephens, sandwiched around a service ace from Millington. Fairfield (6-11, 4-3 MAAC) came back to tie the score at 7-7, but the Red Foxes used another 4-0 run to open an 11-7 lead and force a Fairfield timeout. The Stags again fought back, tying the score at 12-12, but Marist again eventually opened up three-point lead, on a Zywick service ace, at 17-14. A 5-0 gave the Stags their first lead at 19-17, forcing Marist to take both of its timeouts. Out of the second timeout, Hill hit back-to-back kills to tie things up and a kill by Shaw gave the lead back to the Red Foxes. Another kill by Hill gave Marist a two-point lead at 21-19. Following a point by the Stags, Shaw added another kill and teamed with Marisa Gilbert (Pflugerville, Texas) for a block. Two more kills by Shaw eventually gave the Red Foxes the 25-21 set win. Hill and Shaw each led the Marist offense in the first set with six kill apiece. Zywick had a team-high seven digs while Brady had 16 assists. As a team, the Red Foxes hit a .395 clip for the set.
The second set was an exciting one the entire way, featuring several long points. Fairfield jumped out to leads of 11-5 and 16-11, but the Red Foxes, on the back of a 5-0 run, fought back to tie the score at 16-all. Hill had two kills and Zywick had two aces in the match-tying run. A 4-1 run by Fairfield gave the Stags the lead back. Trailing 20-17, Marist earned a very hard-fought point, fighting off several tough Fairfield attacks, getting digs from Jones, Millington and Zywick, before Shaw buried her ninth kill of the match to give the Red Foxes the point. Fairfield came back, scoring three of four points to open up a 23-19 lead. Kills by Stephens, Brady and a rare service ace by Shaw brought Marist back to within one at 23-22. A point by the Stags gave them a pair of set points, but another kill by Stephens and a Fairfield attacking error tied the score at 24. The Red Foxes had a pair of set points of their own, but could not put the match away as two Fairfield kills gave the home team the set, 28-26. Stephens led the Red Foxes with five kills in the second set while Zywick and Jones each had eight digs. Zywick also added two of her three aces.
The third set started out much like the second as the Stags jumped out to a 10-5 lead. A 5-2 run by the Red Foxes - on two kills by Lahey, one by Stephens, an ace by Jones and a block from Stephens and Shaw – pulled Marist to within two at 12-10. Fairfield opened things back up with a 7-4 run of its own, taking a 19-14 lead. Trailing 23-16, Marist made a late charge with Millington serving, scoring three straight points on a Lahey kill and a joint block by Stephens and Lahey. After Fairfield scored to bring it to set point, Marist against scored three consecutive point to close to 24-22. An ace by Lahey and a kill by Brady led this charge. Fairfield, however, scored the final point to take the set 25-22, and take a 2-1 lead in the match. Lahey led the Red Foxes with five kills in the third set while Zywick had six digs and Hill had five to lead the defense.
Marist used the momentum from the late runs in the third set to take an early lead in the fourth frame. After the Stags scored the first point of the set, the Red Foxes rattled off seven consecutive points to take a 7-1 lead. Gena Russo (Rensselaer, N.Y.) and Brady started the streak with back-to-back kills. Stephens followed with consecutive blocks, teaming first with Lahey and then with Brady. The run ended on an ace from Millington and a kill by Stephens. Fairfield eventually fought back to tie the score at 11, but Marist answered with a 7-2 run to open a commanding 20-13 lead. Lahey had four kills and Millington had an ace to lead the charge. After trading points, a kill from Gilbert gave Marist the set, 25-16 and forced a deciding fifth set. Stephens and Lahey led the offensive charge in the fourth set with four kills each. Zywick had six more digs and Millington added two aces.
The fifth set featured several large runs by each team. Fairfield opened the set with five straight points and, trailing 6-1, the Red Foxes responded with a streak of five points of their own to tie the score. Stephens and Hill started the run with a joint block and a Fairfield error and Hill kill brought the score to 6-4. Zywick came right out of a Fairfield timeout with her fourth ace of the match and Hill put in another kill to tie the score. The Stags answered however, with their second 5-0 run of the set to take an 11-6 lead. Both teams sided out several times until, facing match point, the Red Foxes scored three consecutive points on two kills by Lahey, sandwiched around a Fairfield error. Following a timeout, the Stags closed the match with a kill.
Marist wraps up its six-match road trip with matches this weekend at Rider (Saturday) and Saint Peter’s (Sunday). Both matches are scheduled to start at 1 p.m. The Red Foxes and Fairfield will match up again in just 10 days as the Stags visit McCann Arena on Saturday, Oct. 19 for a 1 p.m. match.