Worcester, Mass. – In a matchup that featured two of the region's best individual players, it was Clark University who prevailed over Framingham State, 3-1, in non-league volleyball action on Thursday night.
Score: Clark University 3, Framingham State 1 (25-22, 25-14, 18-25, 25-17)
Records: Clark University 13-7; Framingham State 12-7
Location: Kneller Athletic Center, Worcester, Mass.
How It Happened:
Both Clark's Marina Ramos (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) and Framingham State's Alycia Rackliffe (Agawam, Mass.) had monster performances, but in the end it was the Cougars who remained undefeated at home this season (7-0).
The opening set was a back and forth affair with neither team leading by more than three points and late in the set the score was knotted at 17-17. The set continued to be tight and was tied four more times, the last time coming at 22-22 following a Jacqueline Jimenez-Maldonado (San Francisco, Calif.) kill. Clark closed out the set taking advantage of a Ram error and back-to-back kills from Jimenez-Maldonado.
In the second set, the Cougars raced out to a 9-2 lead forcing a Rams timeout. Framingham State closed to within five at 17-12, but a Courtney Pharr (Seattle, Wash.) kill ignited a quick 8-1 run that featured service aces from Rachel Webb (Celina, Texas) and Ramos and was capped by a Hannah Fox (Dracut, Mass.) kill.
Framingham State came out inspired in the third set and went ahead 12-7 on a kill from Sarah Leonard (Southboro, Mass.). The Rams moved ahead 15-11 following a powerful kill from Rackliffe and that lead ballooned to 19-11 as the visitors used an excellent service game to extend their lead.
Clark crept back into the set, getting as close as 19-15 on a Ramos kill and a Ram hitting miscue, but Framingham State put the match away with three straight points highlighted by a Casie Thurber (Springfield, Mass.) kill and a Victoria Anderson (Attleboro, Mass.) service ace.
The momentum looked to have swung back to the Scarlet and White after opening up the fourth set with a 5-1 edge but the Rams fought back and went ahead 10-7 on five straight kills – including three from Thurber.
Clark answered back with a rally of their own and went ahead 17-10 as Ramos smashed down two kills, the Rams made three unforced errors and Savannah Sanford (San Anselmo, Calif.) service ace.
Rackliffe notched another kill and Mackenzie Whalen (Norton, Mass.) found a spot for an ace, but the Cougars sealed the match as Ana Mercado (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) recorded the match-clinching kill.
Rackliffe shined brightest for the visitors, racking up 16 kills, 22 digs and three assists, while Julia Wan (South Deerfield, Mass.) added seven kills and 14 digs. In addition, Whalen chipped in with 31 assists and nine digs.
For Clark, Ramos just missed out on another 20-kill, 20-dig showing as she ended with a match-best 17 kills and a career-high 33 digs. Webb totaled 33 assists and 14 digs, while Mia Cattaneo (Santa Barbara, Calif.) ended with 27 digs and Sanford added 19 of her own.
Jimenez-Maldonado, meanwhile, totaled 11 kills for the Scarlet and White who also got seven kills from Pharr and six more from Fox.
"We played a very athletic and well coached team today and I thought our team rose to the occasion to play outstanding tonight," said Clark head coach Mickey Cahoon.
Clark entered the night with a 6-0 home record and have gone 14-3 in their last 17 matches in the Kneller Athletic Center dating back to last season. Their last home lost came exactly one year ago – October 6, 2015 to league rival Springfield.
Clark is off until Tuesday when they return to New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action and play host to Wellesley. The Rams, meanwhile, are back in action on Saturday when they take part in a tri-match with host Gordon College and Roger Williams.