Volleyball Takes Two of Three



Colgate Volleyball could be poised for its best season in years if the prediction made by Head Coach Ryan Baker is any indication. The Raiders began competitive play last weekend with solid evidence that his assessment might indeed be correct. Colgate went 2-1 in the Colgate Classic at Cotterell Court, highlighted by a victory over the University of Rhode Island in the finale. The Raiders dropped the first match against New Hampshire on Friday 3-1, but rebounded the next day to beat Niagara and URI, both in four games.

Colgate’s loss on Friday night to New Hampshire was eerily similar to its victories over Niagara and Rhode Island the next day. The Wildcats won the opening game 30-23, but the Raiders immediately leveled the match in game two. The third and fourth games were both battles, but New Hampshire won key points late both times to claim the match with 30-18 and 30-24 scores. Junior Katrina Zawojski led the Raiders with 12 kills, while classmate Merryl Pohl and first-year Casey Ritt each had 10. Sophomore Meghan Fanta had 43 assists. Senior Erin Kanetzke had a terrific all-around performance with eight kills, four digs, and five block assists.

On Saturday afternoon, the Raiders faced the Niagara Purple Eagles and came away with a victory. The teams split the first two games 30-23 and 19-30. Niagara led 19-15 midway through game three, but Colgate replied with a 10-4 run to take a 25-23 lead. The Raiders then outlasted the Eagles to win 30-27. The Raiders dominated the fourth game, winning 14 of the first 18 points en route to a comfortable 30-16 victory. Zawojski had five kills in the deciding game and finished with 12 for the match. First-year Logan Keala had 10 of her 15 assists and six of her 12 digs in the game.

“To have a freshman come in and lead the team was great,” Head Coach Ryan Baker said. “She was really composed out there.”

Later Saturday afternoon, Colgate and Rhode Island split the first two games, 26-30 and then 30-26. The Rams not only took an early lead in game three, but also answered a Colgate run with a 5-2 burst of their own to make the score 24-21. The Raiders won three straight points to trigger a 9-1 run and snatch both the game and control of the match. In the fourth game, Rhode Island took a quick 5-1 lead, but Colgate fought back and took the lead for good at 10-9. A 30-23 final score clinched the match.

Sophomore Kelsea Loveless and Keala starred in the victory. Loveless had 20 kills and 12 digs, while Keala had 55 assists, 10 digs and five block assists. Zawojski had 19 kills, 12 digs and five assists, while Kanetzke added seven kills. Junior libero Jackie Adlam led the defensive effort with 22 digs. First-years Devon Applegate and Casey Ritt also repelled many URI attacks.

Baker was very happy about the win.

“We had to earn that match,” Baker said. “Rhode Island expected to win, so we had to earn each point. Team defense and great individual performances from players like Loveless and Keala put us over the edge.”

Overall, Baker was pleased with the Raider efforts to begin the season.

“I wanted to see how different players performed together,” Baker said. “Our fitness level really showed this weekend, too. Our team came back in good shape, which paid off in difficult conditions. It might have been 90 degrees inside the gym on both days.” Still, he added that, “We need to improve our communication and cohesion on the court. I think both will come with time.”

This weekend, the Raiders travel to San Francisco for games against Eastern Washington, the University of San Francisco and Oral Roberts. The tournament will serve as a homecoming for Adlam and two other players, but Baker said the games definitely also have a competitive purpose.

“When I scheduled the tournaments at San Francisco and Penn State (where Colgate visits next weekend), I wanted to see how our team handles some of the best volleyball programs in the country,” Baker said. “Five of our next six opponents are ranked in the top-100. But the Rhode Island win makes me believe that we will compete strongly out there.”