Colgate’s volleyball team continued its strong start to the 2006 season with a 2-1 showing at Marist’s Red Fox Classic. Victories over the host school and Wagner, both in three game sweeps, sandwiched a defeat to Central Connecticut State. The result is a record of 4-2, their best record through six matches since 1995.
Colgate and Wagner battled to a draw for much of their first game. Colgate went on an 8-1 run to break a 9-9 tie, but the Seahawks quickly pulled back to within three points at 19-16. However, the Raiders won five of the next six points to take a 24-17 lead and went on to a 30-22 win. Junior Erin Kanetzke, one of just four upperclassmen on the roster, recorded four of her nine kills in the decisive 5-1 run. In the second game, the Raiders stormed out to a 15-3 lead. Colgate never looked back, winning 30-17. Colgate poured it on in the third game, jumping out to a 21-11 lead. Wagner refused to quit and made a game of it, but the Raiders finished off the match with a 30-26 win.
The freshmen and sophomores starred heavily in the victory, as first-year Ilona Matulaitis recorded 10 kills and a .533 hitting percentage. Her classmate, Meghan Fanta, had a match-high 35 assists and contributed defensively with eight digs. Kelsea Loveless followed up her Patriot League Rookie of the Week performance with 10 digs, second to sophomore Jackie Adlam’s 11, and eight kills. Sophomore Katrina Zawojski led the Raiders in kills with 11.
On Friday, Colgate swept away winless Marist, but only after three grueling games. In the opener, the Raiders took an 11-3 lead early, only to see the Red Foxes eventually tie the score at 21 and even take a two point lead at 26-24. But Meghan Fanta stepped up with a string of good serves, leading Colgate to five straight points. The Raiders would soon close out a 30-27 game. Game two went back and forth between the teams, who combined for five ties and two lead changes. Finally, with the game tied at 20, Kanetzke recorded a kill to give Colgate a one point lead. The Raiders won six of the next seven points to pull away and eventually win 30-26. The third game was close early on, but Colgate went on a 20-11 run to turn a 10-10 tie into a match-ending 30-21 victory.
Zawojski led the offense with 11 kills. Matulaitis scored nine, while Loveless and senior Marybeth Maziarz each had eight. Fanta recorded 36 assists and Adlam had a match-high 11 digs to lead the defense.
The Raiders fought another bitterly contested game on Saturday with Central Connecticut, but the Blue Devils came out on top in four games. The Blue Devils went on a 10-3 run to take a commanding 15-7 lead and then went on to finish the game 30-21. Central Connecticut started off the second game strongly as well, but Colgate fought back persistently. Eventually, two kills from Loveless squared the game at 28. However, the Blue Devils then called timeout and it paid off, as they won the next two points to prevail 30-28. The Raiders jumped back into the game with a convincing 30-22 win. The Raiders led by as many as 10, and were never seriously threatened. The fourth game was the closest yet; there were 18 ties and six lead changes in total. Colgate finally took a two point lead at 26-24, but Central Connecticut won six consecutive points to snatch away the game and match.
Three Raiders scored double-doubles in the battle with the Blue Devils. Zawojski recorded her third of the season with 10 digs and a match-high 17 kills. Loveless had 12 kills and 17 digs, while Fanta had 49 assists and 13 digs. Matulaitis also had a great offensive match with a career-high 14 kills.
Head Coach Ryan Baker was pleased with the team’s performance over the weekend. “We started off sluggishly on Friday night, but we found a way to win and do it in a sweep,” he said in a telephone interview.
Baker added, “Central Connecticut is a very good team. Still, we had opportunities to force a fifth game and maybe beat them, but we did not win the key points. I think our players learned from that and were determined to finish off Wagner when they had the chance. The Wagner match was also great because we had to come right back after playing Central Connecticut. It showed the benefits of our conditioning work this summer.”
Katrina Zawojski’s outstanding weekend, with double-digit kills in each match, earned her the Patriot League Player of the Week award. She is the second Raider to receive the honor so far this season, joining Erin Kanetzke last week. Baker said that, “coming in as a freshman, I could see that Katrina had a lot of potential. This season, she has matured so much and taken her game to a new level. She’s on the verge of being able to dominate any opponent. Her success is a byproduct of the way we are playing as a team right now. We are set up for her to score a lot of kills.”
Zawojski also made the all-tournament team, joined by Adlam. Matulaitis, Adlam, and Fanta all received honorable mention from the Patriot League for their performances.
This weekend, the Raiders host the Colgate Invitational at Cotterell Court. They will host Princeton on Friday. The following day, Colgate faces two games, hosting Siena and later Canisius. These three games will be the Raiders’ final home games until they begin their Patriot League home schedule against Bucknell on October 6.