Sarah Driscoll

Sarah Driscoll celebrating after a point has been scored for the Dukes.

JMU volleyball defeated the Hofstra Pride on Saturday at home in an intense five game set as the Dukes sought to further defend its back-to-back CAA volleyball titles. The Dukes came into Saturday’s game at first place in the CAA with a record of 9-3 (1-0 CAA). Visiting Hofstra held a record of 10-4 (0-0 CAA) and looked to play spoiler from its fourth-place rank in the conference.

The Godwin Hall court got off to a loud start on Saturday as the Dukes stormed out of the gate against the Pride, winning the first set 25-19. Their intimidating kill count was led by senior outside hitter Bryn Recker, with five, and junior outside hitter Briley Brind’Amour with four in the first set. Recker’s motivation for taking on the Pride came from knowing how formidable an opponent Hofstra is and how much it wanted to dethrone the Dukes.

“We knew Hofstra was going to be a really good team,” Recker said. “We really want to focus on playing every team as if they’re going to give us their best, because we’re back-to-back CAA champions, and knowing everyone wants to beat us motivates us to play at our best.”

The start of the second set didn’t get off to quite the same pace, as Hofstra aggressively responded in the beginning. Although the Dukes matched the same intensity, they ultimately fell short to the Pride 26-24. Hofstra delivered two consecutive aces to break the 24-24 tie and even up the match.

The beginning of the third set gave the Dukes and their fans plenty to cheer about as the team jumped to a 16-11 lead. Junior middle blocker M’Kaela White’s vicious kills and junior defensive specialist/libero Sarah Driscoll’s consistent digs helped JMU take a 2-1 set lead after the 25-19 win.

Both teams continued to show their best as the fourth set began, with kills and excellent defense coming from both sides of the court. Recker, White and senior middle blocker Taylor Gail fired kills into the Hofstra front line, leading the Dukes to a 15-12 lead halfway through the set.

Just like the second set, Hofstra only came back stronger and evened things up with a 25-22 set victory to force an intriguing fifth set. Head coach Lauren Steinbrecher even complimented her team’s opposition.

“Hofstra is a very good team,” Steinbrecher said, “I think they have one of the best players in the conference in No. 1 Laura Masciullo, their outside, and obviously have some really good servers.”

With Godwin Hall at its loudest, the Dukes took the court for the final set. JMU fans roared as repeated kills by White, and a few of her dance moves, brought JMU to an 8-6 lead. The JMU faithful rose to their feet and watched a service ace from senior defensive specialist/libero Jacqui Koebel become the final dagger to Hofstra as JMU won on a 15-10 final score in the fifth set. Driscoll, who led the team with 24 digs, was proud of her team winning another nail-biter.

“Going into the fifth, we knew we were going to finish,” Driscoll said. “We’ve had trouble finishing and really wanted to win and beat a good Hofstra team.”

JMU volleyball now moves to 10-3 (2-0 CAA) and still stands at first place in the CAA. The team’s next matchup is Sunday at 1 p.m. against Delaware.

Contact Jordan Simal at simaljg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more volleyball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.