ASTON, Pa. - Catholic University volleyball freshman Josephine Morrill totaled 19 kills and 23 digs, both career highs, but the Cardinals' comeback from two sets down fell two points short against Messiah Friday night in the Knights Invitational hosted by Neumann at The Mirenda Center.
Catholic (8-5) dropped its fifth-straight match against the Falcons who have finished second in the MAC Commonwealth Conference in six of the last eight seasons.
Morrill posted her third double double while finishing with double-digit kills for the ninth time in 11 matches this season. She now leads the team with 149 kills, an average of 3.82 per set which ranks her 29th nationally and the second-most among freshmen. Paige Smith of Merchant Marine leads all Division III freshman with 4.00 kills per set.
The first set featured eight ties in the first 16 points. With the set tied at 8-8, Messiah (9-3) scored six-straight points and led 18-12 before a quick 4-0 run by the Cardinals pulled them within two. Thanks to three Falcon attack errors, Catholic used another four-point spurt to take a 24-23 lead.
However, Messiah fought off match point and scored four of the final five points to edge out a 27-25 victory.
The Falcons led 10-5 to start the second set and then 15-9 before the Cardinals scored five of the next six points to cut their deficit to two, 16-14. Led by four kills from Lanae Hunsberger and two from Mary Underman, Messiah nine of the last 12 points to take a two-set lead, 25-17.
The third set was back-and-forth with 11 ties and neither able to take more than a three-point lead. Trailing 17-14, the Cardinals tied the match behind a Falcon attack error and two service aces from Morrill. With the set tied at 19-19, Catholic took its largest lead at 23-20 on a kill and service ace from junior Patricia Martinez.
Back-to-back Cardinal attack errors tied the set at 23-23 before the Cards edged out the 26-24 win after a bad set and ball handling error by Messiah.
Catholic never trailed in the fourth set, scoring seven of the first 10 points, including five on errors by the Falcons. The Cardinals followed with another 7-3 run to expand their lead to 14-6 before evening the match at two sets apiece on a kill by Cooper.
Messiah had nine kills and nine attack errors in the fourth set. They also had a service error and two ball handling errors.
After rallying from down two sets, Catholic had a chance to complete the comeback in the fifth and deciding set, leading 13-9 following Cooper's 12th kill of the match. The Falcons scored five-straight points and held match point, 14-13, before back-to-back kills by Morrill and Libbus gave the Cardinals match point.
A Messiah kill tied the set at 15-15 before the Falcons won the match after back-to-back Catholic attack errors.
The Cardinals conclude competition at the Knights Invitational on Saturday with matches against Christopher Newport and Widener.