DURHAM, N.H. — A gutsy team performance on the final day of the Holly Young Invitational saw Seattle U volleyball victorious in an entertaining five set thriller over Holy Cross, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 25-21,15-7, for a 3-2 final. The Redhawks improved to 4-2 as Rachel Stark notched a match-high 17 kills. Tijana Milojevic meanwhile led the way from the back with 18 digs and tied a career mark, accounting for four of the team’s 11 aces.
Collectively, SU held a favorable .233 to .225 hitting margin, though trailed Holy Cross, 11-7, in team blocks. Both sides also finished with 75 digs apiece.
The Redhawks opened the day sprinting out to a 7-1 lead before quickly stretching the first set cushion to 13-4. Holy Cross cut the margin to three, 14-11, as four Seattle U errors helped the Crusaders put together a 7-1 rally.
Holy Cross tied the opening stanza at 17, but was short-lived as Stark added a kill, nudging Seattle U to a 19-17 lead. It was all SU from there on as Lauren McCabe, Amaris Carter and Stark each tallied kills as SU took the first set.
The Redhawks then struggled in the subsequent frames dropping closely battled sets of 25-20 in the second and 25-23 in third.
A sluggish SU start in the second saw it fall behind 6-3 early. Eve Kerschenbaum and Stark helped Seattle U recover as they forced ties at 6-6 and 8-8, respectively. After a 4-0 spurt gave the Redhawks a 12-11 lead, Holy Cross erased the narrow margin with a 4-1 rally of its own. SU continued to push back as Kerschenbaum landed a pair of late kills to trim the deficit to 19-17, but the effort was unable to be sustained.
Down 12-7 in third, Sofia Sanchez narrowed the Redhawk deficit to 14-11, before she and McCabe notched bacon-to-back kills to pull within two, 15-13, midway through the set. The duo finished the match with nine kills apiece.
After the Crusaders pushed out to a 19-14 lead, Stark continued to aid the Seattle U cause with back-to-back tallies, shrinking the Redhawk deficit to 20-19 late. Stark and Carter then strung together a trio of kills moving SU out to a 22-21 lead. However, the slim margin again quickly evaporated with the Crusaders closing the set on a 4-1 run.
Seattle U began to mount its comeback in fourth as McCabe and Stark pushed the Redhawks to the right side of a 12-9 scoreline, following a 4-1 run. With momentum building SU then stretched the gap to five, 17-12, as Julia Queiroz and Ozkan teamed-up for block-to-back blocks.
The advantage though disappeared as Holy Cross stormed back behind a 6-1 rally, tying the fourth set at 18. SU then reclaim the lead at 22-18, as Milojevic landed three-straight aces en route forcing a decisive fifth.
From the outset, Seattle U controlled the final frame as Sanchez and Carter buried kills, giving the Redhawks a 4-2 lead early. Queiroz would then chip in with back-to-back kills to extend the SU lead to 8-3 at the turn. Seattle U pushed the score to 10-4 before taking the fifth, 15-7, to complete the comeback.
The freshmen duo of Carter and Ozkan also registered standout performances as each posted their first-career double-double. Carter finished 16 kills and 12 digs. Ozkan meanwhile posted a career-best 51 assists and 10 digs, prior to garnering all-tournament team honors.
Seattle U returns to action next week with four matches on tap including the home opener on Tuesday, Sept. 10 against in-state rival Eastern Washington, with first serve from the Redhawk Center slated for 5 pm. Single-game tickets for Tuesday’s contest all home 2019 matches, as well as season tickets are still available and can be purchasing by visiting GoSeattleU.com/tix.