Blue Hens split weekend conference opener

Sarah Boekholder/THE

Blue Hens celebrate close win against CAA foe UNCW.

Managing Sports Editor

The university’s volleyball team started the weekend with a tough 3-0 loss against Towson on Friday, but bounced back nicely with a 3-2 win over the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) a day later.

The team found themselves down 2-1 against UNCW heading into the third set, but a fast start in the fourth gave them a large margin of victory at 25-14.

They would scrape by in the last set 15-12 to cement the win, their ninth on the year.

“We just told them to keep fighting point for point until the last ball,” Head Coach Sara Matthews said of when her team was down 2-1 sets early. “That was our message over and over again, whether we won, whether we lost the set, it was just keep fighting for every single point.”

The Blue Hens had 57 kills on the night, 16 coming from senior outside hitter Maria Bellinger. The 2018 All-CAA first teamer has moved into the fifth spot in Delaware history for kills with 1,350, passing Joanna Dusza who held the spot since 1999.

_B3Q7495 Sarah Boekholder/THE REVIEW
Senior outside hitter Maria Bellinger winds up for a big hit.

“I would say today, the biggest thing for our team and for me was that we were able to spread the offense and get better opportunities at the net, which definitely helped me,” Bellinger said. “I know I started slow at the beginning so having my teammates there to pick me up and pick up their play to kind of bring me along with them really helped today.”

Redshirt junior middle blocker Julia Hayes matched her career high with nine blocks, four coming in the first set. Freshman setter Ezgi Basaranlar had a complete game with 50 assists, eight digs, five kills and four aces. Senior libero Andie Hanus was crucial on defense with 30 digs on the night, just three shy of her career high.

_B3Q7806 Sarah Boekholder/THE REVIEW
Senior libero Andie Hanus gets one of her 30 digs against UNCW.

The victory improved the Blue Hens record to 9-4, already matching last year’s win total.

“I think just the mindset shift has been the difference really,” Mathews said. “We have brought in some really good pieces that have brought some consistency and some offensive weapons which helps, but the girls really committed themselves in the spring to training hard and getting better and shifting the mindset into a winning program and I think it’s paying off.”

“I would just say our energy on the court and off the court,” Bellinger said on the difference between last year and this year. “We just really meshed as a team well together and we just decided from day one that we;re gonna be on the same. We’re working towards this one common goal and that’s gonna be our main focus and I think we’ve all really focussed in on that as a whole, not just as individuals and it’s showing.”

Delaware will find themselves back in action on Monday with a visit from the College of Charleston. The first serve is set for 6:30 p.m.

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