FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Liam Maxwell tallied 17 kills, but Belmont Abbey dropped a close four-set decision to Sacred Heart Friday night by a score of 3-1 (25-12, 22-25, 25-13, 28-26). The contest marked the first of a two-game trip to the New York metropolitan area for the Crusaders.
Brian Long registered 10 kills and a .409 hitting percentage, while Brennan Davis and Bryce Sullivan shared setting duties with 21 and 17 assists, respectively. Rob Valentine totaled 13 digs for the Crusaders (2-4).
The opening set was all Sacred Heart (1-4) as it answered an opening ace with six straight points. After Belmont Abbey closed to 9-5, the Pioneers used a pair of 4-0 runs around a Crusader point to run the score to 17-6. With a hitting advantage of .400 to .037, SHU closed out the set 25-12.
In the second set, it was Belmont Abbey who took advantage of mistakes. It broke a 2-2 tie with four straight points and later opened a 16-8 lead before Sacred Heart rallied. It used a 9-1 run to turn a 19-12 deficit into a 21-20 lead, but the Crusaders answered with four straight to take control. Long tied the match with a kill and put BAC ahead with an ace, then served for two more points to set point. After a Sacred Heart point, The Abbey took the set 25-22.
The third set mirrored the first with Sacred Heart holding a big hitting advantage, .500 to -.182. Belmont Abbey led 9-8, but the Pioneers scored three straight and six of seven for a 14-10 edge. After another Abbey point, SHU closed out the set 25-13 with an 11-2 run.
Belmont Abbey fell behind 6-1 and 16-9 in the fourth, but made a furious rally. The Crusaders scored 10 straight for a 19-16 lead, then were up 22-19 when Sacred Heart stormed back with four in a row. The Crusaders tied the score at 23, then the teams traded points to 26-26 when the Pioneers took two straight for the win.
The road swing continues tomorrow night at NJIT.