Volleyball Goes to North Carolina for Invitational

Jessica Rice

This weekend the women’s volleyball team travelled to North Carolina State in Raleigh, North Carolina for the Midtown Invitational. The Raiders finished the tournament with a 1-2 record, putting the team’s overall record at 7-5 before they start league matches this week.

The Raiders opened the tournament against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday. Colgate fell to the Rams in a very close match lasting five sets. Despite the loss, first-year outside hitter Kathleen Harris and junior middle blocker Diane Seely had great games with 17 kills each. Senior setter Kaylee Fifer also contributed with an impressive 50 assists and 11 digs, while senior libero Caitlin Cremin had a team-high of 20 assists.

“Diane was unstoppable and our defensive specialists were great once again,” Head Coach Ryan Baker said.

During the first set, Colgate proved they weren’t intimated by the Rams’ 9-2 record, as Harris got two consecutive kills putting the Raiders ahead 17-13.  VCU came back with four straight points tying the score at 17. The score remained close until Colgate went on a 6-1 run with kills from senior outside hitter Lindsay Young, and sophomore right side Kate Reilly, winning the set 25-20.

The Raiders used the momentum from their first win to get an early lead in the second set, but the Rams made a comeback. With a kill from Cecilia Aragao, the Rams secured a four-point advantage putting the score at 18-14. The Raiders pushed back,  earning six of the next eight points. The score was tied at 20, and then the Raiders had an opportunity for game point at 25-24, but the Rams came back with three

consecutive points to win the second set 27-25.

The close loss in the second set didn’t affect the Raiders as they pulled ahead with a 15-7 lead. Seely had four kills, and Harris and Young each had two kills amounting to Colgate’s huge advantage. VCU stayed in the game, narrowing Colgate’s lead to three at 23-20, but kills from Seely and Fifer secured the win.

Seely and Fifer continued to dominate in the fourth set with back-to-back kills, putting the Raiders ahead with an 18-13 lead. However, the Rams worked their way back into the game as Saige Gallop scored three straight kills to tie the score at 19. Harris got two kills, putting the Raiders at 24-22 with a chance to score match point. But the Raiders had trouble with that last point as VCU had a four-point run, winning the set 26-24.

The fifth set went back and forth as the Rams took the early lead with a 5-0 run, earning the 6-3 advantage. With another kill from Harris, the Raiders fought back to take the lead at 10-8. But despite their efforts,  VCU scored seven of the final nine points to narrowly win the fifth set 15-12, and take the match with a 3-2 win.

Colgate had its second match, and its first win of the tournament against North Carolina State Saturday afternoon. The Raiders executed well as Seely had 15 kills, and first-year middle hitter Katie Stebbins had 12 kills. Fifer came in with 45 assists and nine kills of her own including two crucial points that helped the Raiders get the win in the end. The Raiders’ defense was also instrumental to the win as Harris had 20 digs along with 11 offensive kills. Cremin had 25 digs, and senior defensive specialist Allie Dyer had 15 digs and several crucial plays down the line to keep the ball alive.

The home team took the first two sets as the Raiders struggled with an eight-percent hitting percentage. The Wolfpack took the first set 25-17 and the second 25-18.

Despite the first two sets, the Raiders fought to stay in the third set as the score went back-and-forth. Then Reilly, who finished the day with 10 kills, made two pivotal kills in a six-point run. The Raiders took the lead 19-13, and never let up until the score was 24-16 thanks to an ace from Cremin and two more kills from Reilly. Reilly then got her fifth kill of the set, winning the third set for the Raiders.

The Raiders held onto their momentum taking a 14-8 lead early in the fourth set with two kills from Seely, and one from Young. Despite the lead, the Wolfpack cut down Colgate’s lead until the score was tied at 20. The Raiders pushed with another kill from Harris, earning a chance at set point with the score at 24-23. Instead the Wolfpack pushed two points. Colgate stopped the Wolfpack from earning match point, making the score to 28-27. Three points later, after kills from Reilly and Young, Colgate forced N.C. State into the fifth and final set of the match with a 30-28 win in the fourth set.

The fifth set was always incredibly close as neither team was able to obtain more than a two-point lead.  After N.C. State tied the game at 13, Harris got a kill earning Colgate a chance at match point. Then the Wolfpack had an unforced error granting the Raiders the 15-13 win.

“This is a huge win for our players, program and university,” Baker said. “NC State is one of the top programs in the ACC and in the country. Our team never gave up and continued to plug away. I was so proud of our senior leadership.” 

Only an hour after its huge upset against N.C. State, the Raiders had another huge match against Wisconsin. The Raiders fell 0-3 in their final match at the Midtown Invitational. Young and Reilly posted six kills each, Cremin had 13 digs and Fifer had 18 assists during the match.

The Raiders played their best during the opening set of the match as they held a 20-19 lead over Wisconsin after a four-point run in which Reilly and Young made two kills and one kill respectively. Despite this, the Wisconsin Badgers scored six of the next seven points to win the set 25-21.

The Badger’s momentum carried over as they took a huge 19-9 lead in the second set before they took the win. The third set followed suit as the Badgers earned an early lead, and finished the game with an 8-0 point run. Wisconsin won the third set 25-13.

Despite the final loss to Wisconsin, the team felt confident.

“There are a lot of positives from this weekend as we prepare for our Patriot League schedule,” Baker said.

The Raiders start league games this week with two home games as they face Army on Friday at 7:00pm and Holy Cross Saturday at 4:00pm.

                                                                                            Contact Jessica Rice at [email protected]