Volleyball Stopped by Bryant, 3-2, in NEC Semifinals

Volleyball Stopped by Bryant, 3-2, in NEC Semifinals

The Central Connecticut volleyball team had its season end in the Northeast Conference semifinals with a 3-2 setback against Bryant on Friday night in Brooklyn, NY. Junior Madelyn Kaprelyan, who was named the NEC Player of the Year on Thursday, came out and posted her fifth triple-double on the season to lead Central. 

The loss ended CCSU's season with a 13-13 record. 

Kaprelyan posted 18 kills, 20 assists and 11 digs in the match. Sophomore Emma Henderson added a double-double with 11 kills and 22 digs. Junior Morgan Woycik added 10 kills and junior Erin McDermott had 23 assists.

Defensively, junior Eline van Heijningen had 13 total blocks for Central. Senior Kaitlyn Kushman posted 20 digs and sophomore Ashlyn Eisenga had 21 digs.

The Blue Devils took the opening set after erasing a four-point deficit. The Blue Devils trailed, 16-12, before a kill by junior Madelyn Kaprelyn snapped a Bryant 4-0 run. CCSU would chip away at the deficit and got consecutive blocks to tie the match at 19-19. Junior Gala Galabova, the NEC's leader in blocks, was involved in both rejections. The Central run would go to three points to take a 20-19 lead. A kill by sophomore Eline van Heijningen would tie the game at 21-all and CCSU would roll off four straight points to close the match. Sophomore Emma Henderson served an ace to start the streak and a block by van Heijningen and Kaprelyan closed. the game, 25-21.

Bryant bounced back in the second set to tie the match. The Bulldogs raced out to a 5-0 lead in the set, but CCSU responded with a run of six points. An ace by Henderson tie the match at 5-5 before an error gave Central the lead. Bryant regained the lead with a run of four points that made it 15-12, forcing a CCSU timeout. A kill by Kaprelyan would tie the set at 16-16 before the Bulldogs scored three straight to take the lead for good. A kill by junior Morgan Woycik would get Central within, 24-23, but the Bulldogs closed the set out with a kill to even the match.

In the third set Central rattled off five unanswered points in the early going to build an early lead. Woycik hammered a kill to open the streak before three straight Bryant errors. A kill by Henderson would put CCSU ahead, 10-5. Bryant would battle back with a five-point run to take a 12-11 lead. The teams would go back-and-forth until Bryant ran off a late 3-0 run to go ahead 23-19. Central rallied, starting with back-to-back kills by sophomore Ashlyn Eisenga and Kaprelyan before a kill by Henderson would tie the match at 23-23. The Blue Devils completed the comeback with kills by Kaprelyan and Henderson to win the game, 25-19, and close the frame with six unanswered points to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

With their backs to the wall, the Bulldogs opened the fourth set strong building a 7-3 lead. Central would fight back to tie the match, drawing even at 8-all following an unassisted kill at the net by Henderson. Bryant responded with a 5-1 run and following an ace to make it 13-9 CCSU was forced to call timeout. The Bulldogs extended the margin to five points before Blue Devils came right back with a kill by Kaprelyan, followed by an ace from senior Kaitlyn Kushman to open a run of seven straight points. Back-to-back blocks by the tandem of Galabova and Kaprelyan capped the run to give Central a 17-15 lead. Bryant would push back with consecutive kills to draw even eventually at 19-19 before eventually taking a lead at 22-21 to force a Blue Devils timeout in an attempt to stem the momentum. The Bulldogs would continue their roll with three points to close the set with a 25-21 win to force a fifth set.

In the decisive game, Bryant would get three straight points to build a 9-5 advantage. CCSU would interrupt the run with a point, but the Bulldogs ran off three straight points to push their lead to 12-6 before a CCSU timeout. The Blue Devils would come back with consecutive points to end the Bryant run. CCSU would take advantage of consecutive Bulldogs errors to close within, 13-11, forcing a timeout. Bryant would come out of the timeout and get two points to close the match.

Bryant advanced to the NEC title game for the first time with the win. Fourth-seeded Sacred Heart upended the top-seed LIU Brooklyn in the first semifinal to advance to Saturday's championship match.

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