Volleyball Pushes HFU To Brink, Falls In Five In CACC Playoff

Team huddle - raised hands - women's volleyball.
(Photo by Steven R. Smith)

PHILADELPHIA – The Felician University women's volleyball team pushed overall No. 1 seed Holy Family University to the brink of elimination, but the Tigers came back to earn a 3-2 (21-25, 25-13, 16-25, 25-15, 15-10) victory over the visiting Golden Falcons in a quarterfinal of the 2018 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Championship tournament on Tuesday evening at the Campus Center Gymnasium.

The loss ended the best season in its 15-year program history for Felician (13-18), the No. 4 seed from the CACC North Division. The Golden Falcons' 13 wins match the combined total of their previous two top years combined.

Holy Family (27-5) advances to play North No. 2 seed Caldwell University in Saturday's semifinal round in Lakewood, N.J. The Tigers have won 19 consecutive matches and are listed at No. 5 in the most recent NCAA Division II East Regional rankings.

Holy Family put four players in double figures in kills on Tuesday, led by 27 from CACC Player of the Year Chase Wassel (North Wales, Pa./Lansdale Catholic). Wassel put down seven of her team's eight kills in the deciding set and added 15 digs for the night. Freshman Kahea Aea (Mililani, Hawaii/Kamehameha) paced Felician with 11 kills and 11 digs.

Felician scored three consecutive points after Set 1 was tied, 16-16, and did not allow HFU to score while on serve for the rest of the set to emerge victorious, 25-21. It turned out to be the closest set of the night. The sides traded lopsided wins to set up the deciding set.

The Golden Falcons never led in Set 5. They recovered from an early deficit for an 8-8 tie, but a kill by Tiger sophomore Carly Covington (Delmar, Md./Delmar) gave the hosts the lead for good. Up 11-8, HFU committed an attack error, but took control, 13-9, following two more Wassel kills. A Felician attack error created several match point chances for the Tigers, and after missing a serve on the first one, they ended the match behind Wassel's kill exactly two hours after the first service.

The boxscore was as strange as the linescore. HFU owned advantages of 61-29 in kills and 10-3 in aces. But behind a tenacious defense led by freshman libero Sierra Gallagher (Honolulu, Hawaii/Kamehameha) (27 digs) and senior middle blocker Jazlyn Pipkins (Paris, Texas/Paris) (seven blocks), the Golden Falcons remained in contention. Felician also capitalized on 38 attack errors and 16 service errors committed by the Tigers.

Freshman setter Morgan Silks (Norristown, Pa./Archbishop Carroll), the CACC Rookie and Setter of the Year, turned in 53 assists and 12 digs on the night. Felician received five kills from senior outside hitter Paulina Calero (El Centro, Calif./Southwest).

Calero ends her career in second place on Felician's all-time kills list with 875.