The Raiders tasted both victory and defeat last week, as they defeated Holy Cross, 3-1 and lost to Army, 3-0 on the road last week. In last Friday’s match against the Crusaders, the Raiders received big performances from junior right outside-hitter Katrina Zawojski and senior middle blocker Erin Kanetzke in their 25-30, 32-30, 30-14, 30-24 triumph. Zawojski put down a team-high 16 kills while recording 11 digs and four blocks. Kanetzke riddled the Crusaders as well, hitting .429 for 12 kills and registering five blocks. First-years Casey Ritt and Merryl Pohl also reached double-digit kills, scoring 11 apiece. Along with Zawojski, four Raiders recorded double-digit digs. In addition, Colgate benefited from 19 Crusader service errors.
The ladies were in poor form at West Point the following night, allowing Army to dominate en route to a 30-16, 30-25, 30-20 sweep. The Raiders will meet the Black Knights again in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament on Friday.
“Army’s blocking improved from the first time we played them [last month], but it was our poor execution that did us in,” head coach Ryan Baker said. “We were tentative and sluggish on both sides of the ball last weekend.”
Colgate’s inefficiency was reflected in the box score as well, as Army outhit the Raiders. The service academy also recorded seven aces, while Colgate scored none. Kanetzke led the Raider attack by putting down eight kills. Classmate and outside-hitter Merryl Pohl and Zawojski were also major contributors with seven kills apiece. Rachael Breinling and Elizabeth Lazzari led the Black Knights with 13 and 12 kills, respectively.
The Raiders, who finished Patriot League play with an 11-3 mark, enter this year’s Patriot League Tournament as a much-improved team from last year with a strong core of returnees and a talented bunch of first-years. Most notably, Colgate’s backline defense and passing has been superb.
“Our recruiting for this season focused heavily on ball-control because service return is so important,” Baker said.
Colgate’s all-time digs leader junior Jackie Adlam and a duo of precocious first-years -Devon Applegate and Sam Trauth – lead the Raiders defense. The Raiders strength will be called upon to carry the team through the single-elimination phase of the season, as Colgate will now see more potent offenses resembling the Rubena Sukaj-led American attack.
Third-seed Colgate can’t let last weekend’s performance against second-seed Army deter them in its rematch against Army in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals at American University in Washington D.C.
“We need to offer a strong response to continue our season. The team that plays with the most focus and a nothing-to-lose attitude will win,” Baker proclaimed. “This time around, we will really concentrate on serving strongly, in order to dictate Army’s offense and provide more opportunities for our attack. We need to play much more aggressively.”
The winners of the Colgate-Army match-up and the match between top-seeded American and fourth-seeded Navy will play in the Championship match on Saturday.