UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Behind 13 blocks, the Saint Francis men's volleyball team defeated Sacred Heart, 3-1, on Thursday night at Rec Hall to advance to the EIVA Championship match for the second consecutive season. The Red Flash won 25-16, 21-25, 25-16 and 25-20.
Saint Francis runs its win streak to seven matches and improves to 11-4 in conference play.
Michael Fisher (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley (Pepperdine)) led all players with 14 kills to go with seven digs and seven digs. Stephen Braswell (Manchester, Pa./Northeastern) and Jeff Hogan (Northern Cambria, Pa./Northern Cambria) finished with 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Tony Nicotra (Allison Park, Pa./Deer Lakes) and Keith Kegerreis (Chambersburg, Pa./Chambersburg) recorded seven blocks each. Daniel Ford (Newtown, Pa./Council Rock North) dished out a match-high 39 assists, added six blocks and two service aces.
A pair of combination blocks and two kills from Hogan spearheaded a 7-3 lead for Saint Francis in the opening set. The Red Flash started to run away with the set after a block from Nicotra and Braswell to extend SFU's lead to 11-6. Four straight SFU kills and a SHU attack error highlighted a 6-0 run to put the Flash ahead, 17-7. The Pioneers got within six, 18-12, after collecting four unanswered points. A Braswell kill put the first set to rest, 25-16.
Sacred Heart took a 4-2 lead in the second set after two service aces. Nicotra's fifth total block of the match tied the set at 7-all. Sacred Heart scored six of the next seven points to take a 13-8 lead. The Pioneers stretched its advantage to 15-10 and forced Saint Francis to call a timeout. Sacred Heart continued to pressure but Saint Francis trimmed the lead to three, 23-20. Out of a SHU timeout, Ford's service ace sustained SFU's run to four, 23-21. An Emerson Waumans kill gave SHU the win, 25-21.
Kegerreis started off the third set with three straight blocks – two solo – to give Saint Francis a 4-0 lead. The Red Flash continued to spread the lead, 13-7, after a Braswell kill. Sacred Heart put together a 4-1 run to make the scored 16-12 in favor of the Flash. Saint Francis' 13th block of the match put the Flash up 21-14. A Sacred Heart attack error ended the third set, 25-16.
Kegerreis was once again a force in the early going of the fourth set, giving the Flash a 4-1 advantage after a pair of kills. Tied at 5-5, both teams traded points until Sacred Heart took a two-point lead at 12-10. The Pioneers searched for separation but the Flash answered to knot the score at 13-13. Two SHU attack errors gave SFU a two-point lead, 17-15, and forced Sacred Heart to burn a timeout. Saint Francis was able to hold the lead until the end, taking the final set 25-20.
Saint Francis takes on the winner of Thursday's night match between Penn State and Princeton at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.