Seniors dominate in final home game with sights set on playoffs

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After they posed for a group photo, the Bearcats turned their focus onto the City College of New York Beavers, losers of four straight entering the match.

Baruch dominated from the start as they swept City College in straight sets, 25-11, 25-16, 25-16. The Bearcats, with a .550 hitting percentage, had one of their cleanest sets all season to open the match. After an early timeout by City College, standout freshman Stephanie Cornwell and Bou handed a pair of assists to Kiki, who gave Baruch a 6-1 lead.

The two sides traded errors before Yijia Cai and Kiki knocked in back-to-back winners to force City College to call another timeout. The Bearcats went on another 6-0 run, which included pinpoint aces by outside hitter Sophia Shahipour and kills from Ally and Cai. Kiki served consecutive aces to wrap up the first set in a convincing fashion.

Although sloppy play on both ends gave City College an 11-10 lead to start the second set, the Bearcats responded with an impressive 8-0 stretch. They energized the crowd through a flurry of blocks, digs and kills. As their lead grew, so did the decibel levels in the ARC. Even when CCNY broke the streak, the combination of Ally and Shahipour suffocated the Beavers who could not rise to the challenge.

Ally took command of the third set as she launched five of her six game-high aces. Baruch neutralized any attempt to rally back into the match by targeting the vulnerable Beavers with lethal strikes to the heart of their defense. An 8-1 advantage expanded as the Bearcats coerced errors out of Tenaya Hawkins and Irishvarsha Lyyadura of City College. The fans reached a crescendo at 24-15, ready to celebrate the win, but Kiki hit an errant serve to prolong the match for just a moment. Cai finished off the Beavers with an overhand smash to cap a memorable night for the Bearcats.

Baruch flourished on offense as they were more effective at converting chances into points. They tallied 34 kills, 30 assists and 13 aces to just 10 kills, 10 assists and four aces for City College. A look at the CUNYAC season stats finds the three co-captains and Cornwell ranked top five in either assists, digs, kills or service aces per set for qualifying players. Hard-fought matches against McDaniel College and Haverford College did not go Baruch’s way, but Bou says the team will utilize the bye week to regroup before the CUNYAC tournament.

“I think that the girls would much rather have a practice than play a lower team in the conference. It’s going to give us more time to prep to play for the championship,” said Bou.

The Bearcats' final CUNYAC match of the regular season came on Tuesday, when the team took on the College of Staten Island at the Dolphins' home court. The team picked up where they left off, recording yet another sweep to finish 7-1 overall in CUNYAC play.

The season will officially wrap up over the weekend when the Bearcats participate in the SUNY Oneonta Dig Pink Invitational against Plattsburgh State, Hartwick College and Oneonta, respectively. Essentially, these games are scrimmages in preparation for the playoffs ahead. It is important that the Bearcats do not play complacently, so as to not carry bad play into the CUNYAC tournament.

Looking forward to the CUNYAC tournament, the Bearcats are hot on the tails of Hunter College and are primed to make a run for the championship this time around. The seniors would love to erase the bad memory of last season’s championship loss, with no better way than to hoist the trophy as they ride off into the sunset. However, the Bearcats are up against tough competition. The Hawks of Hunter College are undefeated in CUNYAC play, dominating the field, including Baruch when they faced off earlier in the season. Still, a valiant team effort will increase the team’s chances of winning.

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