COLUMBIA, Mo. – Park University needed a bounce-back match Friday night, after a disappointing five-frame setback earlier in the day to sixth-ranked Viterbo, and the bounce was big, as the third-ranked Pirates ran over Huntington University in three sets – 25-16, 25-15, 25-14 – hitting .365 as a team, including Kat Dudra's .364 on a dozen kills in Columbia.
The Pirates (5-1) were led by Nada Meawad's 14 kills, while Dudra and Aneisha Ford led the defense at the net with three blocks each, and Celina Monteiro had 14 digs on the back row. Danna Gomes' 32 assists helped the Pirates to their nearly .400 hitting mark, while the defense held Huntington to .078 hitting, as a team, with eight kills from Tailor Schultheis.
"We responded the right way to the loss to Viterbo," said Park coach Mike Talamantes. "At times today we looked like a team with five new starters, but we showed fight and there was no quitting on this team. I'm happy with the way the day went, although we wanted that win in the first match. The Huntington win is a good one, because they're a good team, and it was the right way to respond to a loss."
Park's best set on offense was the second, hitting .484, and the Pirates were .333 in the first, splitting a 12-all tie with a 6-0 run to build an 18-12 lead. Huntington got back within five, and later it was a six-point game at 22-16, but a Gomes kill from Corina Rodriguez started a 3-0 run to finish the set, won by Nada Meawad's kill at 25-16.
In the Pirates big second set on offense, Park had to erase an early Huntington lead, eventually in front 15-8 on a kill by Dudra and 16-9 on a kill by Noura Meawad. Maren Mair made it a 10-point game on a kill assisted by Rodriguez late in the set, and Dudra got the set winner, this time from Gomes, claiming a two-set lead with a 25-15 win.
The Pirates rolled in the third, winning by its biggest margin, 25-14, opening with a big lead and never looking back. Park eventually got reserve players in to the match, including Ashley Warehime, who registered a match-winning kill at 25-14 after averaging more than three kills per set last weekend for the Park reserves in Benedictine's JV tournament.
"Getting match experience for some reserves was huge," Talamantes said. "We have two matches tomorrow, so that depth on the bench really helps things in a long tournament like this."
The Pirates open at 9 a.m., against the University of Saint Francis, which improved to 1-7 on the season, getting its first win of the year Friday night over Friends University. The Pirates also play Olivet Nazarene University Saturday afternoon, a team that beat Friends and lost to Columbia on Friday evening. Live video for both matches will be available at http://portal.stretchinternet.com/columbia, with live stats on the Pirates' volleyball schedule page at www.parkathletics.com.