Following a difficult start to the season, the Colgate volleyball team finally began Patriot League play last weekend. Unfortunately, the results were all too familiar for the Raiders.
In the opening game of league play, Colgate paid a visit to the Naval Academy. Navy entered the game with an impressive 7-3 overall record and looked poised to continue its success in the Patriot League. The Raiders, on the other hand, have struggled all season, earning just one victory in 13 contests prior to its match with the Midshipmen. Despite early season difficulties, head coach Jenna Panatier was confident.
“The league is always full of surprises and we plan on being one of the biggest ones,” Panatier said.
Things looked promising early as the Raiders played well, but ultimately lost the opening game, 30-27. After losing the second game, 30-23, the team bounced back in game three, winning a nail-biter, 31-29. The team was unable to build on its momentum, however, as the women lost the fourth game, 30-20.
“We played well against Navy,” senior Allie Nichols said. “If we had won the first game, which was really close, I think we would have had the rest of the match. I think because we came so close in the first game and ended up losing, it was hard for us to bounce back and regain focus.”
Nichols lead the way for the Raiders in the loss, finishing with a match-high 32 assists, while sophomore Erin Kanetzke added a season-high nine kills.
In its second game of the opening weekend of Patriot League play, the Raiders traveled to Washington, D.C. for a match against the league’s defending champion, American. After jumping out to a quick start and taking a surprising 17-10 lead, things quickly fell apart for the Raiders.
“We’re very good at establishing ourselves right out of the gate and we tend to surprise the teams we play in the beginning,” Nichols said. “But as soon as we start to lose points, it becomes a snowball of errors and suddenly we’re down again.”
American, after coming back to take the first game, 30-20, dominated the remainder of the match, winning the final two games, 30-11 and 30-15, to complete the sweep. The win stretched American’s Patriot League winning streak to an unbelievable 66 matches.
First-year Katrina Zawojski led the Raiders with 10 kills, while Nichols continued to play well, adding 19 assists. Zawojski and classmate Jackie Adlam both recorded a team-high eight digs in the loss.
Despite the losses, an undermanned Colgate squad gave it all it had in the two matches.
“Down two of our major hitters – [junior] Marybeth Maziarz due to a grade one concussion and [first-year] Merryl Pohl due to a stress fracture in her foot – our team gave our opponents this weekend everything we had.” Panatier said.
These key injuries have undoubtedly made a tough season even harder, but the women continue to be optimistic.
“We work so hard at practice, and we have finally come together off the court,” Adlam said. “The moment that we uniformly decide that we will no longer accept losing, our victories will start rolling in.”
The Raiders get another shot at a victory tonight at 7:00 p.m. when they host Holy Cross on Cotterell Court.