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By Christian Hince

Photo Credits: Bruce Dudek | UAlbany Athletics

UAlbany showed heart against Sacred Heart on Tuesday, winning a five-set battle on the road. Playing in their first non-conference match since late September, the Danes moved to 9-13 while knocking the Pioneers down to 12-8.

“The team came together well and fought through all five sets,” said head coach Josh Pickard. “We had struggled previously in five-set matches and it’s great to get the win.”

UAlbany scored first in the opening set with a Grace Kozad kill, but Sacred Heart soon jumped out to a 5-3 lead, never looking back. A 10-6 advantage soon became a 16-11 advantage, and the Pioneers were soon ahead 19-13. Despite a 4-1 run from the Danes, it was the home team that came away with a 25-19 win.

The second began the same way, with UAlbany taking the first point before falling behind 5-3. However, they scored three straight points for a new lead, and another three-point streak shortly thereafter put the Danes up 11-8. The Pioneers fought hard throughout the set, tying the score at 15 and 17, however, it was UAlbany that took the 25-22 victory.

Sacred Heart got off to a hot start in the fourth set, opening up a 6-2 lead. The Great Danes fought to come within a point twice and to even tie it at 18, but it was the Pioneers who held on to win 25-22.

Sacred Heart also earned the first three points of the fourth set, however, the Danes charged back to tie it at 6 and 7, soon taking the lead 10-9. Soon after, a three-point run made this a 15-11 lead, and another three-point run later made it a 21-15 lead. Staying the course, UAlbany won 25-19 to send both teams to a tiebreaker set.

The Danes started the final round up 3-0, extending this to a 7-2 advantage not long after. Sacred Heart battled back with a late three-point run of their own, although it couldn’t stop UAlbany’s clinching 15-12 victory.

Grace Kozad led attackers with 20 kills and added 10 digs for a great overall performance. Regan Wright and Lilou Stegeman were also key contributors, with 15 and 14 kills respectively. On defense, Charlotte Macken earned a team-high 31 digs, and Stegeman continued to lead in blocks tallying 10 more during the match.

Coach Pickard was impressed with his team’s offensive efforts, especially Malea Stanton, who tallied 60 assists as the team’s only setter. “We had production from multiple positions and Malea did a great job distributing the ball,” he said.

The Great Danes will continue on Friday and Saturday with home games against NJIT and New Hampshire.

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