Nov. 12, 2010

* Courtesy of Stevens Institute Athletics

NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 12, 2010) - Sophomore standout Maggie Kowalska, recently named to the AVCA All-New York region team for the second-consecutive season, notched a match-high 17 kills as the Stevens Institute of Technology women's volleyball team outlasted Johnson & Wales University, 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-8), in the opening round of the New York Regional held at the Coles Sports Center in New York, N.Y.

Senior Julia Reilly became just the second student-athlete in program history to surpass the 2,000 dig plateau with a match-best 15 digs, while fellow senior Maggie Majcher had 14 kills and 10 digs in the win. Freshman Chrissy Dickinson finished with nine kills and four blocks, while junior Amethyst Holder tallied seven kills and seven digs. Stevens' senior setter Sara Budar collected a match-high 43 assists while directing the Ducks attack.

Johnson & Wales junior middle blocker Audrey Warren (Havermill, Mass.) led the Wildcats with nine kills, while fellow junior Abby Reedy (Cincinnati, Ohio) had seven kills. Seniors Catherine Bravo (Toa Baja, Puerto Rico) and Nikki Balchunas (Brockton, Mass.) each finished with six kills, with Balchunas adding 12 digs. Freshman libero Giselle Cram-Ortiz (Vega Alta, Puerto Rico) recorded a team-high 15 digs, while Bravo dished out 21 helpers in the loss.

With the win the second-seeded Ducks advance to the second round of the New York Regional, where they will face the third-seeded United States Coast Guard Academy which defeated sixth-seeded Roger Williams University, 3-1 (16-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-19) in their tournament opener. Tip-off at the Coles Sports Center is set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 13.

Set 1: Stevens 25, Johnson & Wales 14
With the first set knotted at three, Kowalska tipped it over the Wildcats frontline to give Stevens an early 4-3 edge. Ahead 7-6, a Dickinson kill coupled with a Wildcats error gave the Ducks a three-point lead. Still up three at 12-9, Majcher found a crease in the Johnson & Wales defense before Kowalska put away back-to-back spikes to stretch the Stevens advantage to five - forcing a Wildcats' timeout.

Kowalska and Majcher notched two-straight kills coming out of the break making it 17-9 before Bravo snuck a ball inside the left baseline to momentarily quell the Ducks' run. Trailing 19-12, the Wildcats surrendered consecutive points on a Holder kill and a ball-handling error, as Stevens upped the margin to nine. Up 24-14, Holder notched an ace, sealing the Ducks' first-set win.

Set 2: Johnson & Wales 25, Stevens 22
Trailing 4-3 in the early going, the Ducks' Michelle Plotzker served up an ace to knot the set. The Wildcats responded with a 5-1 run to take a 9-5 lead before an attack error slowed the Johnson & Wales surge. Despite the setback, Johnson & Wales would continue their hot-streak, reeling off three unanswered points to force a Stevens' stoppage.

Stevens battled back within five after the break, trimming it to 15-10 before a Majcher ace pulled the Ducks within four. A Kowalska kill and block minutes later would make it 16-13 before Holder hammered home a spike to cut the deficit to two. Keeping the momentum going, Kowalska then notched another kill to slice the lead to one.

After tying the set on a ball-handling error, the Ducks took the lead, 17-16, on another Wildcats' attack error. Johnson & Wales responded by mounting a 5-1 run, kick-started by a Warren kill, going back on top, 21-18, before a Ducks' timeout.

Down 22-19, Majcher put away her fourth kill of the afternoon, bringing Stevens within two. Still down two at 23-21 following another Majcher spike, Plotzker powered a ball past the Wildcats block to make it 23-22, but Johnson & Wales would tally the final two points of the set to even the match at 1-1.

Set 3: Stevens 25, Johnson & Wales 18
Hoping to take a 2-1 match edge, Johnson & Wales raced to an early 7-5 advantage in the pivotal third set. The Ducks answered by rattling off seven-consecutive points capped off by back-to-back Dickinson kills. Ahead 12-8, Dickinson put away a cross-court kill, just sneaking it inside the left sideline to increase the Stevens lead to five.

Down six at 17-11, the Wildcats tallied two-straight points to pull within four, but Kowalska hammered her tenth and 11th spikes of the day to put the Ducks up 19-14. Up 22-16 after a Johnson & Wales error, Majcher put away her eighth kill of the day to go back up five before the Ducks closed out the set with a 25-18 third set win.

Set 4: Johnson & Wales 25, Stevens 22
Down 4-1 early, the Ducks notched three-straight points to pull even at 4-4. Hoping to stay alive, Johnson & Wales responded with six unanswered points to go up 10-4. Still down six at 15-9, Majcher tipped the ball over the out-stretched hands of a pair of Wildcat blockers, making it a five-point set.

Trailing 18-13, freshman Mary Caulson notched back-to-back points before a Majcher ace cut the Ducks' deficit to two. Down 21-17, Kowalska notched a kill before another Caulson spike - just inside the endline - once again made it a two-point set. Still up a pair of points at 24-22, Bravo notched a set-clinching kill to send the match into a fifth-set tiebreak.

Set 5: Stevens 15, Johnson & Wales 8
Budar got the Ducks off to a good start in the tiebreak, recording an ace to put the Ducks up early. Knotted at 1-1, Majcher put away a cross court kill to put Stevens back on top. Kowalska then gave Stevens a 3-1 edge with her 12th kill of the day before a Wildcats error upped the Ducks' margin to three.

Kowalska would hammer home another spike, making it 5-1, before a Stevens' attack error trimmed the margin to three. A Holder kill coupled with a Johnson & Wales error then spurred a 3-0 Ducks run that made it 8-2. Three-straight Johnson & Wales points pulled the Wildcats within three before two Dickinson kills made it 10-5 Stevens.

Minutes later, Dickinson again found a hole in the Johnson & Wales defense to make it 11-6 before a Holder ace upped the Ducks' lead to six. Majcher would then tally a spike to put Stevens within one point of the victory before a Wildcats attack error sealed the win.