It was a rough weekend for the Colgate volleyball team. The Raiders competed at the Yale Invitational against Hofstra, Yale and Boston College, coming out of the tournament 0-3.
“I knew when I put this preseason together that it would be challenging for us mentally and physically. I knew we would have to suffer some tough losses, but with tough losses come great lessons, and the point is to prepare for the league,” Head Coach Ryan Baker said. “We’d love to win our non-league schedule, but the Patriot League is what matters.”
The Hofstra match was looking optimistic for the Raiders, as they handled the first two sets 27-25 and 25-19. Unfortunately, in the third set, Hofstra stepped its hitting percentage up to .270 and kept up the momentum. Colgate lost the final three sets: 19-25, 23-25 and 17-19.
“Any time a team loses (the third set) after being up 2-0, it’s hard to come back. We never recovered, and we were deflated the rest of the weekend,” Baker said.
Statistical leaders against Hofstra were senior captain Katrina Zawojski with 20 kills, followed by junior Kelsey Loveless at 10. Junior Meghan Fanta set them up, totaling 43 assists, while senior captain Jackie Adlam brought up 27 digs. Many players contributed to the defense, earning Colgate a total of 99 team digs for the night, outshining Hofstra’s 85.
The Raiders’ match against Yale was another agonizing loss in three very close sets. Colgate couldn’t seem to take the lead in sets one or two, and then lost grip of an 11-4 lead in set 3. The tournament hosts downed Colgate 21-25, 15-25 and 24-26. At the net, Zawojski and Loveless both tallied up 12 kills for the Raiders, together with Fanta who dished out 24 assists. In the back court, Adlam recorded 10 digs and was followed by Zawojski and Loveless with nine apiece.
The third and final match of the weekend was meeting number two for Boston College and Colgate, which did not go as planned for the Raiders, who were hoping to avenge themselves after losing to Boston College at the Colgate Classic. The Eagles took an early lead on the Raiders. While Colgate did its best to hold on, winning the second set and otherwise coming from behind twice to tie up the score, it wasn’t enough to pull out a win in the end. The final scores of the match were 21-25, 26-24, 18-25 and 20-25. Zawojski lodged 13 kills, while first-year setter Blaire Safir stepped it up and put out 18 assists, and Fanta added 16. Adlam again led the Raider defense with 13 digs. Only Zawojski was named to the Yale Invitational all-tournament team for the Raiders, thanks to her 45 kills and two double-doubles.
“Overall, some really good lessons were learned. We figured out we have to play to win. We had started hoping for mistakes instead of us earning them,” Baker said of the weekend. “I really feel like we found our court demeanor. There was a sense of composure and confidence on the players faces.”
The Raiders responded three days later as they earned a win against Binghamton in four. Colgate had not beaten Binghamton since Baker arrived in Hamilton in 2006, but they came out confident and took over this match.
Zajowski and sophomore middle blocker Casey Ritt stacked up double-digits in kills: 17 and 15 respectively. Colgate’s team attack percentage was as high as .444 during the second set, and .393 in set one. Helping that out was Adlam in the back row with 13 digs and Fanta with a crucial 47 assists. The Raiders walked out of the gym with scores of 25-20, 25-20, 16-25 and 25-21.
“Anytime we can win midweek against a strong opponent like them, we have to be pleased,” Baker said.
The Raiders will host the Colgate Invitational and face Princeton(11 a.m. match) and Syracuse(5 p.m.) tomorrow. Princeton was the number one pick during preseason to win the Ivy League in 2008. They return four starters to a team that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year. Syracuse is struggling this season with a 4-8 record, but the Orange is a tough squad that should not be taken lightly.
“They’re going to provide some very good competition for us,” Baker said. “We always enjoy playing someone just up the road who’s in the Big East. I think we’ll end this non-league schedule on a high.”