Dowling sweeps Caldwell to advance
Shepard leads Golden Lions with 14 kills in dominant victory
WEST HAVEN, N.Y. -- Dowling advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament following a 3-0 sweep of Caldwell. With set wins of 25-9, 25-17 and 25-23, Dowling improves to 28-4 on the season as the Cougars end their season at 26-5.
In the opening set, the Golden Lions earned a convincing 1-0 match lead with a 25-9 win. Dowling took to an early lead and did not let the Cougars gain any momentum. Bethany Shepard, Dragana Jelovac, and Cassy Kelly each had two kills apiece with Maja Potpara tossing up five assists along with two service aces. Morgan Mutranowski played stellar defense with a match leading five digs. After an ace from Mutranowski, Dowling put up four unanswered points to extend its lead to 19-7. Dowling would push through for the final six points for the win.
The second set opened up with both sides trading points. With a 9-8 lead, the Golden Lions went on a 6-0 run to increase their lead to 14-8. A well placed Caldwell timeout broke Dowling's momentum, however, the Golden Lions recovered and a kill form Shepard put Dowling up by six (16-10). The two teams exchanged points, but Dowling's Kelly answered with three kills out of the following four points. Potpara and Shepard each put up kills as the Golden Lions closed out the set 25-17. Shepard led all players with seven kills in the set with a .583 hitting percentage. Mutranowski scooped up eight digs as Potpara tallied 17 assists.
The final set of the evening proved to be the most exciting match of the evening as it saw a tied score six times with two lead changes. The opening points were all earned by the Golden Lions. A kill from Shepard gave Dowling a 6-0 lead, but the Cougars would not go easy. Caldwell pushed back and inched its way within three (11-8) after a Dowling attack error. Caldwell's Susan McDonough slammed three consecutive kills to knot the score at 11. After a Dowling timeout, Chelsea Callahan blasted her first kill of the set to regain the lead. The Cougars answered with a kill from Becca Feczer. A point for point battle would follow, but a kill form Shepard and back-to-back kills from Callahan provided a four-point advantage (22-18). A kill from Kasey Bausch brought the Cougars back within one (23-22), but the Golden Lions pushed through and Jelovac closed out the match with a kill from Potpara. Shepard and Jelovac each had five kills and Chelsea Callahan pitched in with four kills, eight digs and one sevice ace.
Leading the Golden Lions attack was Shepard with 14 kills and a .364 hitting percentage. Potpara guided the offense with 36 assists as Mutranowski held the back line with a match leading 20 digs. As a team the Golden Lions hit .299 with 41 kills, 40 assist, 44 digs, five service aces and six total team blocks.
For Caldwell, McDonough led with eight kills as Lauren Roth put up 24 assists and Maddy Amon led with 11 digs.