WALTHAM, Mass. – The rough start to the season for Bentley University women's volleyball team continued Friday afternoon with the Falcons falling twice, despite from outside hitter Dani Milner (Plano, Texas/Greenhill School) twice breaking her career-best for kills.
Bentley was swept in three sets by East Stroudsburg University before dropping a 3-1 decision to American International College during the Merrimack Invitational on Hammel Court.
Milner had 17 kills, only four errors and three aces in the 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 27-25 loss to 10-2 AIC. The Falcons also received 37 assists, 16 digs and two blocks from sophomore setter Krista Campbell (Newtown, Pa./Council Rock North HS), along with 15 kills from junior outside hitter Shannon Kelly (Hyde Park, N.Y./Franklin D. Roosevelt HS) and 23 digs from junior libero Celia Cristofoli (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson HS).
In the match-clinching fourth set, Bentley had a 24-21 lead but could never put it away to even the match at two apiece. Five points during the Yellow Jackets' closing 7-1 burst came on kills from freshman outside hitter Jana Potic (Belgrade, Serbia), who finished with 17 and a .341 hitting percentage.
AIC hit .304 in the match, including an amazing .529 in the first set when the Jackets had 18 kills and no errors.
Against East Stroudsburg, Milner delivered 13 kills, surpassing her previous high by one, but it wasn't enough as the Falcons were swept in three by the 8-3 Warriors, 25-21, 26-24 and 25-21.
The end of the second set proved pivotal as Bentley owned a 24-23 advantage following a Milner kill but couldn't finish. Kills by junior outside hitter Maddie Reichard (Mount Wolf, Pa.) and freshman outside hitter Sarah Smith (Circleville, N.Y.) put East Stroudsburg in front, and a shared block by Smith and junior middle blocker Courtney Miller (Saylorsville, Pa.) made it a 2-0 deficit in the match for the Falcons.
After a slow start in the third (down 9-2 and 16-4), Bentley came storming back, drawing within one at 22-21 on a Milner ace. However, East Stroudsburg again closed out the set with three straight points, including a match-ending ace by junior libero Lydia Redman (Newtown, Pa.).
Cristofoli led Bentley in digs with 16.
For East Stroudsburg, sophomore Tina Predojevic (Woodland Park, N.J.) has a triple-double with 12 kills, 25 assists and 10 digs, and Reichard hit a sizzling .733 with a dozen kills and only one error.
Bentley, 1-9, will be back at Merrimack on Saturday for matches against Merrimack (noon) and nationally-ranked Nebraska-Kearney (6 pm).