NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- After dropping the first two sets at Niagara, the Iona College volleyball team later fell 3-1 (23-25, 14-25, 25-23, 19-25) near Niagara Falls this afternoon in MAAC action.
Freshman Jamie Smith led the attack for the Gaels (10-16, 8-6) with 14 kills while also adding 10 digs and two block assists. Shaina Campbell notched 13 kills behind a .367 hitting percentage to pair with a couple of blocks, one solo and one assisted. Claire Archibald recorded a team-best 16 digs while adding 12 kills with Emma Rose setting for 54 assists in addition to 10 digs. Tess Connolly provided nine kills and 13 digs in the effort while Kassandra Darnaby posted 10 digs and eight kills.
The Purple Eagles (14-8, 10-3 MAAC) balanced out 50 team kills as Jaycie Roberts and Carolina Leitch shared the team-high of 10 kills. Roberts also registered 13 digs and two service aces. Rylee Hunt notched the match-high of 20 digs. Three individuals recorded at least 10 assists for Niagara, led by 18 from Meghan Higley.
With the first set tied at 21 after Campbell connected on a kill, a Niagara timeout helped the hosts finish out the set with four of the final six points that included a pair of kills from Grace Hetterscheidt to push the advantage to 24-22. Connolly brought the Maroon & Gold within one point with a kill off a Rose set, however, Roberts finished the set with her fifth kill. Roberts posted a .308 hitting percentage towards the kills while also adding six digs. Campbell led the effort for Iona with four kills.
Errors on the part of Iona helped give Niagara the early advantage in the opening stages of the second set, building a 9-3 lead before the margin eventually grew to 20-9 following a service error. Roberts sent the serve back to Niagara at set point with a kill before Alexis Gray closed out the win with an ace to help build a 2-0 match lead. Nine kills for Iona was unfortunately matched by nine attacking errors in the frame while the Purple Eagles notched 11 kills with just three errors.
Looking to build a comeback, the Gaels jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the third set following a Campbell kill. However, Niagara chipped away at the deficit to eventually tie the game at 13 on a kill from Nicole Matheis. Despite the tie score, the Purple Eagles never claimed a lead in the set as Iona once again grew a lead to 22-18 on an Archibald kill before Daranaby finished the set at 25-23 with her own kill. Archibald and Campbell each led Iona with six kills as the team recorded 21 kills, all assisted by Rose.
Niagara looked to avoid a deciding fifth set and was helped by a 7-3 start that eventually grew to a 21-13 advantage. Despite two kills from Darnaby within the final seven points, the Purple Eagles were able to close out the set and match win with a kill from Leitch despite 15 kills from the Gaels in the set led by four from Darnaby and Connolly. Niagara connected on 14 kills as a team with three individuals leading the team with three each.
The Gaels continue the Western New York trip on Sunday with a 1:00 pm match against Canisius in Buffalo.