Women’s Volleyball Battles Hard at the Michigan Challenge


First-year middle blocker Taylor Flaherty and senior outside hitter Kathleen Harris pop up to block a spike. 

This past weekend proved to be challenging, yet rewarding for the Colgate women’s volleyball team who played in the Michigan Challenge tournament hosted by both Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. The Raiders lost their first two matches of the weekend against Auburn and the University of Michigan only to come out victorious in their final match of the weekend against the Eastern Michigan University Eagles. 

On Saturday, September 17, the Raiders faced off against Auburn in a four-set match, where the Raiders ultimately lost 3-1 by a final score of 26-28, 21-25, 24-26 and 21-25. The final score, however, does not reflect how well the Raiders managed to compete, staying neck-and-neck with Auburn for the majority of the match. 

Junior setter Molly Smith played an incredibly impressive match, recording 44 assists and 11 digs – the fifth time in nine matches that she has recorded 40-plus assists. Senior outside hitter Kathleen Harris also proved crucial, putting a team best 16 kills on the board as well as 12 digs. 

Head coach Ryan Baker commended the team for their efforts on the court. 

“I’m extremely proud of how we played today. We battled an SEC team point-for-point. While it’s tough to lose, it is obvious that we are in every match against strong competition. We have to figure out how to finish, which is on me and our seniors,” Baker said. 

Later that same day, the Raiders faced the Big 10’s University of Michigan, losing 3-1, but once again proving they can compete with the big schools. Individual set scores were 25-22, 23-25, 9-25 and 14-25. Harris played another phenomenal match with 15 kills, a .303 hitting percentage and nine digs, just barely missing a double-double. 

The team once again made coach Baker proud of their performance. 

“For two sets, it was quite possibly our best volleyball of the season and quite possibly in my entire tenure at Colgate. Raider Nation has a lot to be proud of. What I’m most happy about is that we aren’t satisfied after a great performance. This team has their heads on,” Baker said. 

In their last match of the weekend, the Raiders faced Eastern Michigan and came out with a well-earned victory by a 3-0 margin. The individual set scores were 25-16, 25-14 and 25-22. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Stansbury dished out an impressive service ace, solidifying the first set win for the Raiders, after which they continued to dominate. In addition to Harris, sophomore middle blocker Jaelah Hutchison, senior defensive specialist Madison McAndrews and junior right side hitter/setter Lauren Sanderson brought their A-games and contributed to the Raider’s success.

McAndrews explained the team’s thought process over the weekend. 

“We started the weekend with a frustrating loss to Auburn. The team knew this was not how we wanted the weekend to go and came out really strong against the 22nd ranked team in the country, Michigan. We played the best volleyball we have played this whole season in the first two sets, beating Michigan in set one. Unfortunately we were unable to sustain that high level of play through sets three and four. After that loss we had a hard but necessary talk as a team and decided we were done losing. We brought that attitude to our final match of the tournament against Eastern Michigan University and swept them in 3 games. Ending preseason play on a high note like we did was exciting and I think the team is really ready to take on Holy Cross and Army this weekend,” McAndrews said.

The Raiders proved just how capable they are as a team this past weekend, showcasing their ability to compete with Big 10 schools. After this weekend, there remains little doubt that the women’s volleyball team has a bright season ahead of them. 

McAndrews believes that the team will definitely grow from their matches this weekend.

“While we did not get the results we wanted this weekend the team learned some key lessons that are going to be really important heading into our Patriot League matches this coming weekend,” McAndrews said. 

Next weekend the Raiders kick off Patriot League play with trips to Holy Cross on Friday and Army on Saturday.