PITTSFIELD -- St. Joseph's Maddie Roulier set a career-best in kills Thursday night at Taconic.
The Crusaders needed every single one of them.
Roulier had 27 kills, including one on the final point of the fifth set, as the Crusaders earned a 3-2 win over the Braves.
"We had a record last year that I was trying to beat this year and that was 16, so I beat that," the St. Joseph's senior said. "I was basically just trying to find open spots when I went up and hit."
The Crusaders actually lost the first of the five sets but held on for a 24-26, 25-18, 20-25, 25-13, 17-15 victory.
St. Joseph's led 11-3 in the fifth set before Taconic roared back to take a 15-14 lead. The Braves surrendered the final three points in the last set to give St. Joseph's the victory.
"In the first game, we had a bad run of serves. In the second game, I told them that serving is part of the game and passing," said St. Joe's coach Peter Strack. "You get those two basics, then everything works out from there."
Roulier had a busy day for the Crusaders. Along with her 27 kills, she had two aces, two blocks, three assists and three digs. Virginia Goggins registered 25 assists to go with nine aces and five kills. Andrea Krahforst-Lang chipped in with five aces and six kills.
Taconic's effort was led by Nyanna Slaughter's 14 kills. Angela O'Neil had 26 assists while Haley Hubbard had 10 kills, three digs and three aces.
"We definitely were slow on our feet in the first four [sets] actually," said Taconic coach Jen Doerle. "We finally got it together in the fifth when we were down eight points. We finally got the spirit back that we usually have and made a run for it. Unfortunately, we couldn't finish."
St. Joe's threatened to make the fifth set academic. The Crusaders outscored the Braves 10-1 to close out the fourth set and jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the final, 15-point set. A kill by Roulier while Krahforst-Lang was serving gave St. Joe's the 11th point.
Hubbard's kill on the next point made it 11-4 and gave the Braves the ball back. It started the Braves on a roll that made it 11-13. Twice, Strack called time out to try and stop the Taconic momentum.
O'Neil was serving at 11-13 but hit the ball short of the net. Goggins had a chance to serve for the match, but Slaughter tipped the ball off the net and over for a point.
Isabelle George served three straight points giving Taconic a hard-fought 15-14 advantage. Krahforst-Lang stopped the run with an unreturnable shot. Elena Kelsey served the final two points of the match, and when Roulier recorded her 27th and final kill, the Crusaders had their hard-fought victory.
"We'd get a couple of serves and then the ball would be on the other side," Doerle said. "We couldn't do much. We couldn't set our offense up. That was a problem. We were just playing defense."
Taconic struggled in both of its set victories. There were 13 ties in the first set victory by Taconic and seven ties in the third set win. In fact, the Braves had their best run in the third, using a 6-1 run to pull away.
The win puts the Crusaders two victories shy of making the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament. A year ago, St. Joe's got to the semifinals and Roulier said she and her teammates have used that as a learning experience. Those lessons were put into effect on Thursday.
"Not to get nervous under pressure," Roulier said when asked what lesson No. 1 was from last year. "Just play your game like you know how to. [Thursday] we had a few mistakes that were unforced and that we shouldn't have had. You learn from it, and you keep moving forward from there."
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