By Kevin Carroll — SPORTS EDITOR
The Hofstra volleyball team’s six-match winning streak came to an end in the worst possible way Monday night, as the Pride suffered a stunning five-set loss to James Madison University (JMU) in front of a capacity crowd at the Physical Education Center.
“James Madison was the better team today,” said Hofstra head coach Emily Mansur following the loss, the Pride’s first since opening Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play with a loss to the College of Charleston. “We went up 2-0, but they just kept fighting. They wanted it more than we did.”
Hofstra breezed through the first two sets, winning 25-21 and 25-17 to put the Dukes on the brink of defeat.
But the Dukes scratched and clawed, coming from behind in each of the last three sets to stay alive in the match. JMU won the third set 25-22 and came out on top 26-24 in a wild fourth set, sending the match to a fifth set.
“We would get to certain rotations and people would make errors, and that’s why they were able to come back in and win the match,” Mansur said.
The final set followed much of the same script, with Hofstra running out to an early 6-2 lead and forcing the Dukes to call a timeout.
That short break did wonders for JMU, who stormed back to take a 12-9 lead before Mansur called her own timeout.
For a moment, it looked as though it would be Hofstra coming from behind to take the final set, tying it at 13-13. But the Dukes took the next two points, took the match and took the wind right out of the sails of the Hofstra fans, who had been white-hot all evening in support of the Pride.
Sophomore Laura Masciullo did everything in her power to keep the Pride alive, tallying a match-high 22 kills. Michela Rucli added 15 kills of her own while also leading the team with six blocks. But not even the efforts of two of Hofstra’s best attackers were enough to keep the Pride from falling on Monday night.
“We have to play when it counts, we have to play when we have pressure,” Mansur said. “We need to rise to the occasion and it just didn’t happen tonight.”
The road ahead won’t get any easier for the Pride, as the CAA-leading Northeastern University Huskies come to town on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.