Volleyball Season Ends With 3-2 CACC Semifinal Loss At HFU

2019 CACC Volleyball Semifinal graphic
(Photo by Ellen O'Brien)

RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Felician University women's volleyball team saw the most successful season in program history come to an end on Saturday afternoon. During the semifinals of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Championship tournament, Felician, the No. 1 seed from the North Division, fell to South No. 2 seed Holy Family University, 3-2 (23-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-20, 15-13).

Felician (16-18), which set a program record for victories, was playing in the CACC semifinals for the first time.

"Both teams brought a load of energy today," said Felician senior co-captain and right-side hitter Kali Vodrazka (Bayonne, N.J./Bayonne). "We played our hearts out. Everyone played their role and tried their hardest, but Holy Family came out on top and I respect them."

The Golden Falcons saw their campaign finish in a similar fashion as 2018. Then, also coming off setting a school wins record, Felician traveled to then top-seed Holy Family for the quarterfinals and took a 2-1 lead before also falling in five sets.

"We went into today knowing how last year's loss felt and tried to use it as motivation to come out ahead this time," said Felician sophomore libero Sierra Gallagher (Honolulu, Hawaii/Kamehameha). "We worked really hard and fought to the end but unfortunately we were unable to come away with the win. But I'm proud of our team. We grew a lot in many ways and made it one step farther than last year."

Vodrazka topped the Felician offense with 15 kills and added five blocks. Fellow senior co-captain Jazlyn Pipkins (Paris, Texas/Paris) hit .435 with 11 kills and a school-record-tying 10 blocks. Gallagher finished with 29 digs and five assists.

Holy Family's hitting tandem of junior outside Carly Covington (Delmar, Md./Delmar) and freshman right-side Allyssa Hartney (Garnet Valley, Pa./Garnet Valley) was difficult to contain. Covington, the 2019 CACC Player of the Year, totaled 22 kills and 25 digs, while Hartney amassed 24 kills and nine digs.

A see-saw first set saw the Golden Falcons surrender leads of 9-4 and 23-20. But after a solo block by Pipkins, Felician forced the Tigers into an error to claim the set. Similarly, Set 2 featured five lead changes. Once again, a late tie-breaking block by Pipkins put Felician ahead, and this time Vodrazka followed with a kill to give the visitors a 2-0 match edge.

From that point, the Golden Falcons owned leads during sets after only two rallies the rest of the day – 2-1 in Set 3 and 1-0 in Set 5. For the balance of the final three sets, the Tigers built advantages and held them or at worst, tied. Trailing 24-20, in Set 3, Felician saved three set points before bowing. Set 4 was even five times without the Golden Falcons ever ahead. But trailing, 21-20, Felician surrendered the final four points.

Set 5 began with a kill by Pipkins, but after a Felician attack error, Holy Family freshman Maeve Boylan (Ridley Township, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) came up with consecutive aces, and the hosts never trailed again. With her team trailing, 14-9, Pipkins buried a kill and was involved with two blocks, and a Tiger error left Felician a point away from evening the set. But out of HFU's second and final timeout, a Covington smash landed well inside the endline to hand the victory to the Tigers.

Holy Family sophomore setter Morgan Silks (Norristown, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) turned in 56 assists and 11 digs. Her Felician counterpart, freshman Miquela Martinez (Santa Fe, N.M./St. Michael's) tallied 40 assists and 17 digs.

Pipkins will graduate with all three Felician blocking records. She broke her own single-season mark with 88 total blocks in 2019, bringing her career record-setting total to 212. She tied the single-match standard of Danielle Norman, who put down 10 blocks on Sept. 19, 2005, against Southern Connecticut State University.

Martinez becomes the first Felician player to ever record 1,000 assists in one season, completing the year with 1,005. She is overall the fourth member of the Golden Falcons' 1,000 assist club, joining Felician Hall-of-Famer Nicole Degenhardt (2,535), Susie McKeever (2,090) and teammate Charlotte Greek (Menifee, Calif./Murietta Mesa) (1,740).

Holy Family, ranked No. 6 in the NCAA Division II East Region, improves to 24-8. The Tigers, who have won 16 consecutive matches, will face South No. 1 seed Georgian Court University at noon on Sunday at the Campus Center for the CACC title. HFU was the 2018 champion.

"I wouldn't take anything back," Vodrazka said. "We went out and had fun without ever losing sight that there was a game to play. For years, Felician volleyball has been known as underdogs but this year we proved that we belong at the top with the best."