NEWARK, Del. - - The Wilmington University volleyball team fought off three match points in the fourth set, but then couldn't close out Caldwell with three match points in the fifth, falling, 3-2, in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference cross divisional contest on Saturday at the WU Athletics Complex.
Set scores for the match for the Wildcats were 22-25, 25-19, 19-25, 27-25, and 14-16.
The Wildcats (17-10, 11-4 CACC) couldn't overcome a slow start in the first set, falling behind by scores of 9-4 and 11-6. The Cougar lead (10-15, 9-6 CACC) great to as large as 17-10, but the Wildcats nearly came all the way back, getting to within 22-21 with a kill from Rebecca Rawlinson and a Cougar ball handling error. Bailey Andrews brought the Wildcats to within 23-22, but the Cougars scored the final two points for the set, 25-22.
Trailing 10-4 in the second set, the Wildcats rattled off runs of 4-0, 8-2, and ultimately 13-3 to gain a 17-13 lead. Kills from Mandy Behiels and Bailey Andrews put the Wildcats up 21-17, before back-to-back kills from Rawlinson and Jill Braunsberg evened the match, 25-19.
The third set went back-and-forth, as the teams were tied 16-16 at the midway point. But Caldwell scored six straight to take a 22-17 lead before an ace gave them set point, 24-18. Chloe Kissner gave the Cougars a 2-1 sets lead with a kill, 25-19.
The Wildcats found themselves down19-13 late in the fourth set, but the Wildcats turned it on late, scoring five straight to bring the set to 19-18. They couldn't keep the momentum, however, as the Cougars regained a 23-18 lead with four-straight points. Three straight errors brought the Wildcats to within 23-21, but the Cougars gained match point with a kill, 24-21. Mandy Behiels started a run of four straight with a kill, holding off three match points before taking set point of their own, 25-24, with a Bailey Andrews kill. The game was tied, 25-25, but a cougar service error and another ball handling error tied the match, 2-2, for the Wildcats, 27-25.
Another close start to the fifth set had the teams knotted at 9-9 after they switched sides. Caldwell took a 10-9 lead with a kill, but the Wildcats looked to gain control with four straight points, using a kill from Bailey Andrews to get to 13-10. Another Andrews kill gave the Wildcats three match points, 14-11. But Caldwell picked up back-to-back blocks before a kill tied the set, 14-14. A Wildcat error gave the Cougars match point before Demetria Gary ended the match with a kill, 16-14.
Jill Braunsberg finished with a triple-double, her first of the season but seventh of her career, collecting 10 kills with 27 assists and 14 digs. Andrews led the offense with 19 kills while Behiels chipped in with 14 terminations. Six Wildcats had double-digit digs, led by Jenna Brown's 30.
The Wildcats will take to the road for their next contest, as they head to Holy Family for a CACC South Division contest on Tuesday night. The first serve against the CACC South Division leading Tigers is set for 6:00 p.m.