Victorious Volleyball Vying for PL Berth

Chas Kurtz

The Raider women’s volleyball team endured a very tough start to the season, winning only one of its first 15 matches. However, a dramatic reversal in fortune has occurred, as the Raiders have won three of their last four Patriot League matches and look poised to build upon their recent success.

Following back-to-back losses to Navy and American to open Patriot League play, it looked like this would be a season to forget for Colgate. Undaunted by their misfortune, however, the women refused to give up.

“We work so hard at practice, and we have finally come together off the court,” first-year libero Jackie Adlam said. “Our successes will come when we have all united and agreed that no team is better than us and that we can in fact win.”

Apparently, that time has finally come.

The team’s first Patriot League victory came on September 30 against Holy Cross. Led by first-year hitter Katrina Zawojski’s 31 kills – a Colgate single-match record – the Raiders defeated the Crusaders, 3-1. Zawojski also added a career-high 24 assists to complete her sixth double-double of the season. Senior co-captain Allie Nichols also had a career day, totaling 64 assists, the third best single-match total in Colgate history, while Adlam continued her stellar defensive play, recording a match-high 31 kills in the victory.

In its next match against Army, Colgate’s struggles returned. After winning the first game, a tight 30-28 contest that featured back-and-forth action and 19 ties, the Black Knights won the final two games by the same score of 30-21 to complete the sweep.

Zawojski and Nichols again led the Raiders, as both accumulated double-doubles in the defeat. Adlam continued her defensive dominance, recording a match-high 15 digs. With the loss, Colgate dropped to 1-3 in league play.

The team got back on track, however, with home matches last weekend against Lehigh and Lafayette. Against Lehigh, Zawojski led the way with her third consecutive double-double, including a match-high 12 kills, in a 3-0 sweep of the Mountain Hawks.

The Raiders started strong, taking a 6-1 lead in the first game, and never looked back, winning the match 30-15, 30-23 and 30-21 to improve to 2-3 in the league. Nichols recorded 25 assists in the victory, while sophomore hitter Erin Kanetzke posted a match-high .444 hitting percentage. As always, Adlam secured the defense with a match-high 15 digs.

The Raiders continued to play well against Lafayette, recording their second consecutive sweep of a league rival.

In the match’s opening game, things were tight early, as the score was deadlocked at 10 before a 14-5 run gave the Raiders a lead they would never relinquish. After the 30-21 victory in game one, the match continued to be closely contested as Colgate won the final two games, 33-31 and 30-27.

In the second game, the score was tied at 31 before Nichols recorded an ace and the Leopards misplayed a ball to give the Raiders the win. Down 8-4 in game three, Colgate battled back with the help of Zawojski, who had a match-high 18 kills, the last of which ended the match in dramatic fashion. Junior Marybeth Maziarz also added a helping hand on the offensive end by recording 12 kills and a season-high .455 hitting percentage. With the win, the Raiders improved their record to 4-15 overall and, more importantly, 3-3 in the Patriot League.

With their recent success, head coach Jenna Panatier has reason for optimism.

“Winning three of the last four matches is a direct result of our long term season goal – success in the Patriot League,” she said. “Our women have worked extremely hard in preparation of league play and their hard work is playing off.As we go into our match this weekend against Bucknell, I know exactly what our athletes will be thinking: Patriot League top four.”

Colgate looks to continue its success against Bucknell tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. in Lewisburg.