Volleyball Spikes Competition and Takes Two at ‘Gate Classic

Gillian Scherz

The Colgate volleyball team hosted last week’s Colgate Classic and came away with two solid victories in three matches. This weekend’s tournament was good competition for each of the teams, which composed of an evenly skilled quartet that included our very own Raiders, the Kent State Golden Flashes, the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Boston College Eagles.

“I thought we had four evenly matched teams at Cotterell Court,” Head Coach Ryan Baker said. “It would’ve been just as easy to go 0-3 as it would’ve been to go 3-0.”

Colgate was prepared for a tough weekend and handled it well. The action started for the Raiders on Friday night, as they opened against the Golden Flashes in the first-ever meeting between Colgate and Kent State. Colgate came out on top after four sets: 25-15, 25-18, 20-25, 25-20. Colgate made the first set exciting, as the Raiders came back from a 10-3 deficit to take the lead and push through to victory. Senior captain Katrina Zawojski put down 22 kills, and she was accompanied by junior Kelsea Loveless, who cashed in a solid 14 kills. Junior setter Meghan Fanta held the offense together with 47 assists, and senior libero Jackie Adlam ruled the defense with 13 digs.

Intense rallying continued Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Raiders’ second match of the tournament was also a rollercoaster ride of point exchanges.

“We started off really slowly. I thought we came out sluggish and it took us awhile to get going. In game four we made aggressive changes in the line-up and defense,” Baker said. “At that point I figured I would either be a coaching genius, or make a big coaching mistake.”

The result was the former, as four crucial substitutions made the difference. Senior Merryl Pohl, junior Ilona Matulaitis, sophomore Rachelle Roberts and first-year Blaire Safir came in at a critical time and turned the set around. Colgate was down 20-12, but the four subs led an absolutely ferocious 13-3 Raider charge that helped the Raiders to a great victory.

“They changed the entire chemistry on the floor and brought new energy that led to a victory in game five,” Baker told the Maroon-News.

At the culmination of the match, Colgate brought home another victory: 23-25, 25-20, 26-28, 25-23 and 15-12. Zawojski again ruled the box score with 19 kills in this match. Sophomore Casey Ritt and Loveless hit the Mountaineers’ floor 12 and 11 times, respectively. Fanta led the assists category with 35 and first-year setter Blaire Safir contributed 17 assists to the match. Adlam had a whopping 18 defensive digs for the Raiders. The first dig broke former Lafayette libero Michelle Donoghue’s all-time Patriot League record of 1,610 digs, an exceptional feat that shows Adlam’s defensive prowess on the court.

Unfortunately, the Raiders’ winning streak skidded to a halt in their four-set loss to Boston College. The match against the Eagles closed the Classic, in which the attendance was recorded at a tournament high of 198, including many curious first-year students cheering “Go ‘Gate!” However, fan support couldn’t quite pull the team through. The Raiders simply dominated the first set 25-14, but it was all downhill from there, as Colgate lost the next three sets by the scores of 22-25, 23-25 and 19-25. Hitting was not the problem for the team on this night, as Loveless, Ritt, Zawojski and sophomore outside hitter Logan Keala all tallied up double digits in kills, while Fanta did her part by administering 38 assists. Loveless and Adlam each had 12 digs for the Raiders.

Colgate, Boston College and Kent State all finished with two wins and one loss. Played out like a love triangle, Colgate lost to Boston College, Boston College to Kent State and Kent State to Colgate. West Virginia, however, went back to Morgantown unhappily with three losses.

“As a team we were definitely pleased to come out 2-1,” Baker said. “In general the seniors were consistent and it was great to see leaders on the floor. We really counted on them and they pulled through all weekend.”

The Raiders’ volleyball season continues at the Duke Invitational in Durham, NC, where they will face Georgia on Friday morning, Duke in the evening and Seton Hall on Saturday.