Recap: Seton Hall Loses Three Matches at UNF InvitationalDate: September 19, 2021
By: John Makuch
Seton Hall Athletics
The Pirates finished a three-match stretch down in Jacksonville at the UNF Invitational this past weekend.
Friday saw the Pirates drop the first two matches in their three-match series. The first loss came 3-0 in sets against the Florida International Panthers. The Pirates came into this match having an impressive season so far, with a 7-2 record to their names. But FIU seemed to have their number and have them figured out. Traveling to Florida could have also been an issue, with FIU basically having homecourt advantage for this matchup.
The Pirates fall in three sets to Florida International.— Seton Hall Volleyball (@SHUVolley) September 17, 2021
Kills - Matheny (13)
Digs - Holland (11)
Assists - Bengi (14)
Blocks - Frusha/Hopp (4)
The Hall will return to action at 4:30 p.m. when it faces Middle Tennessee.#HALLin ☠️ pic.twitter.com/jw8EI5vKpp
Either way, Seton Hall lost their first set 25-18, blowing an 8-4 early lead. The second and third sets were much closer, with the scores being 25-20 and 25-23, respectively. JIU The Panthers just got off to an impressive start, and that start was strong enough to get the sweep before the Pirates could mount a comeback.
Madeline Matheny showed out as a bright spot in this match, finishing with 13 total kills, more than anyone between both teams. The Hofstra transfer also finished with seven digs and made an impact everywhere on the court. Taylor Jakubowski also had an impressive showing, putting together 11 assists and 10 digs in these three sets.
Being swept is always discouraging, and can mess up your momentum going forward, but this Pirate team is always resilient. The second match obviously did not go in favor of the Pirates, but there are still bright spots to get into.
The second defeat on Friday came in a much closer matchup against Middle Tennessee. Seton Hall took that loss 3-2 and fought well to the very end. The Pirates took the first and second sets in this one by scores of 25-26 and 25-22. Middle Tennessee put on a great rally down 2-0 unfortunately for the Pirates, and they were not able to finish this team off. A tight third set gave the Blue Raiders all the momentum they needed for the comeback.
Seton Hall falls in five sets to Middle Tennessee State.— Seton Hall Volleyball (@SHUVolley) September 17, 2021
Kills - Lucas (15)
Digs - Holland (17)
Assists - Jakubowski (21)
Blocks - Frusha (9)
The Pirates will complete play at the UNF Invitational against host North Florida tomorrow.#HALLin ☠️ pic.twitter.com/RKesqFSvFb
This set was contested until the final point was contested until the very end, but Middle Tennessee was able to capitalize off of Seton Hall’s mistakes and take the victory. The fourth set showed the Pirates were demoralized after losing set three, with a disappointing score of 25-13 and is not what a team needs after being up 2-0.
This is one of the most lopsided sets the Pirates have seen in quite some time, but it was not the wake-up call they needed for this match in particular. The Blue Raiders would go on to complete their comeback in an impressive 15-11 fashion in the fifth and final set. Emma Graver starred in this match for the Blue Raiders, finishing with 18 kills.
Perri Lucas put in a great effort of her own adding in 15 kills, and Jakubowski performed well yet again with 21 assists and 11 digs. This was a match the Pirates very well could have won, but they would have to take that into Saturday against North Florida.
Unfortunately, the Pirates would lose their third straight match to cap off the three-match series against the host team in North Florida. North Florida proved to be a great and dominant squad, and they were ready for this matchup.
Seton Hall hangs tough in the third set, but ultimately falls, 25-23. The Pirates fall to host UNF, 3-0— Seton Hall Volleyball (@SHUVolley) September 18, 2021
Kills - Lucas (9)
Digs - Holland (18)
Assists - Jakubowski (21)
Blocks - Frusha (2)
The Pirates will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to NJIT.
The first set ended in a close 25-23 loss with Seton Hall keeping it close. Surprisingly, this would be the only set that North Florida had more total attacks than Seton Hall. The Ospreys were efficient with their attacks the whole way through and played elite defense on their way to the sweep.
The second set was all North Florida, with a score of 25-18. Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana proved to be the major factor for the Ospreys in this match. Her 12 kills and 13 digs showed how much of an impact she made and was the difference maker in the tightly contested third set. This set ended with the same score as the first, 25-23, in favor of North Florida.
The Pirates did not go down without a fight, but the losses are still disappointing. Lucas would finish with nine kills, and Anna Holland tacked on an impressive 18 digs. Seton Hall was still able to put up numbers, but three losses are now added to the column.
The team now falls to 7-5 on the season after this three match stretch and must bounce back against NJIT on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. After that, conference play begins, and the Pirates are now well tested for the treacherous Big East journey ahead.
John Makuch can be reached at email@example.com.