Volleyball Beats American for First Time in 13 Years

Volleyball Beats American for First Time in 13 Years

Mike McMaster

The volleyball team improved to 3-1 in Patriot League play this weekend, winning a pair of critical games against league rivals Navy and American. On Tuesday, the Raiders stepped outside of league play, falling to local opponent Syracuse in three games. After the loss to Syracuse, the volleyball team is now 6-10 overall.

On Friday, the volleyball team traveled to Annapolis to take on the Navy Midshipmen. Junior Logan Keala led the Raiders in this contest, leading the team with 12 kills and setting a new career high for digs. Registering 16 digs, Keala eclipsed her previous personal best of 15, which she set early in her sophomore season.

The Raiders got off to a slow start in this contest, dropping the first game 23-25. Coach Ryan Baker credited the opening game loss to nervousness, but the Raiders were able to settle down and they rallied past Navy in the next four games, defeating the Midshipmen 25-17, 25-19 and 25-13.

Saturday’s game against American presented a daunting challenge for the Raiders, who at 2-1 were facing a league opponent they hadn’t beaten since 1996. In addition, the Raiders had never beaten American on their home court. Led by first-year Kaleigh Durket and sophomore Maureen Colligan, the Raiders handed American their first loss in their last 18 matches against Colgate. In a fiercely contested match, the Raiders came out on top 14-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23.

Durket shined in the contest, posting a .520 hitting percentage with 13 kills, 6 digs and five blocks. Not to be outdone, Colligan matched Durket’s 13 kills.

But despite Durket and Colligan’s gaudy statistics, Baker was most impressed by the team’s defense, noting repeatedly that blocking and digging wins championships.

Blocking was a key to the Colgate victory over American, as the Raiders posted a season high 14 team blocks. Playing the middle, junior Casey Ritt and Dougherty were extremely focused.

Ritt knew going into the weekend how important blocking would be if Colgate was going to have a chance to snap their streak against American.

“We knew going into the weekend that we needed to put up a block, otherwise we were going to struggle on defense,” Ritt said. “We did put up a block, and that’s what made the difference.”

Despite the team’s past record against American, Durket and the rest of the team believed they were capable of winning this difficult game on the road.

“We knew they were beatable because they just lost to Lehigh,” Durket said. “We went in with a lot of confidence and we had a ‘we have nothing to lose’ kind of attitude.”

The victory against American this weekend was a milestone win for a team that has their sights set on a Patriot League Championship, but if the Raiders want to have a shot at winning the title, they will have to be able to start winning points earlier in matches. While the Raiders won both of their Patriot League matches this weekend, they lost the opening game of both matches on the road, and the first game loss to American was especially concerning, as the Raiders fell 14-25. In order to accomplish the goals they have set, the volleyball team is aware that they will need to jump start their game earlier on the road.

When asked about Colgate’s early game struggles, Ritt said, “We need to serve aggressively from the beginning and set our own tempo and serve them off the floor.”

Durket added that the more this team plays together, the more comfortable they become. She noted that trust on the team has grown throughout the season, and she thinks that will contribute to improve the team’s play.

“I think we need to not come out timid. I think we are pretty confident in each other now, and I think that will continue to change with experience. We just need to come out with a lot of fire and confidence and I think we will be fine,” Durket said.

After winning two games over the weekend, the Raiders took on Syracuse on the road on Tuesday. In a non-conference match-up, the Raiders fell in straight sets, 25-14, 25-18, 25-18. While the Raiders seemed overmatched, games against large schools like Syracuse are good experience builders for a Colgate team that still has lofty goals in the Patriot League.

The Raiders will resume play this Friday at home against at 7:00 p.m.”