Volleyball Splits Weekend, Drops to Fourth in Patriot League

Emma Barge

Colgate volleyball lost its steady keel in Patriot League ranks this weekend when they swept Lafay­ette Friday night and fell in a 3-2 heartbreaker to Lehigh the following day on the road. With the loss, the Raiders fell to fourth place overall with only two matches remaining in the regular season.

The first set started with a trailing Colgate team trying to regain control of play. After falling behind 6-2, the Raiders went on an 8-point run to take a 10-6 lead over the Leopards. Sophomore libero Caitlin Cremin had a phenomenal run from behind the line with four service aces in the eight-point campaign. Lafayette fought back and rung up a few of its own points, pushing the balance to 14-10 midway through the match. Senior Maureen Colligan along with sophomore Lindsay Young and first-year Diane Seely teamed up to close out the set with an 11-5 run.

With Cremin behind the line again at the start of the second set, Colgate jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. The Raiders held on to the advantage throughout the entire set, allowing Lafayette to come within one point three times in the match but never enough to pull forward. Colgate finished the second set after a pair of Colligan kills and a Leopard error. The score capped at 25-21.

In what would be the final set, Lafayette was clearly determined to come out on top. It came out to a 5-1 lead over the Raiders until sophomore setter Kaylee Fifer tallied a kill to push Colgate to a 16-15 advantage. The teams exchanged attacks for a few points, but Colligan came up big at the net again to grant the Raiders a two-point lead at 19-17. Colgate ran with the advantage and ended the match thanks to Dougherty’s sixth kill and another Lafayette error. With Colligan and Young each recording three kills for the set, Colgate ended the game at 25-20 and swept the Leopards on their own court.

“Our serving game was strong tonight which allowed us to control the match,” Head Coach Ryan Baker said. “However, we need a better performance tomorrow. I felt our back row specialists were consistent throughout the match which helped us secure the win.”

Unfortunately, the Raiders would not come up with a better performance for the Lehigh match. Colgate lost to the Mountain Hawks in its third five-set match of the season.

“Both teams played very well, but Lehigh showed more composure at key moments in the game,” Coach Baker said. “Our effort was tremendous and I look forward to working with this team as we prepare for two important weekends.”

The teams were evenly matched in the first 12 points of the opening set. With Lehigh leading 6-5, the Raiders went on a five-point run to crack open a 10-6 lead and give themselves some wiggle room. Dougherty tallied an ace during the run while Colgate recorded kills from three different players. The Raiders held onto the lead for the rest of the set and finished it off with a 10-4 run to cap the score at 25-17. Cremin scored yet another ace and junior Michelle McCarthy tallied a kill.

The second set opened up with another bout of even exchanges between the two teams. Lehigh then broke away to secure an 8-5 lead and stayed on top until Colgate fired back with eight straight points to pull ahead for a 21-16 advantage. Senior Blaire Safir tallied a kill while teammate Fifer had two of her own while Lehigh gave up six points on its own unforced errors. The Mountain Hawks snapped back into focus as they pushed through a 9-2 run to take the ultimate 25-23 win for set number two.

With the teams knotted at one game apiece, both were anxious to begin another round of play. Lehigh used its momentum from the second set to take a 9-4 lead over the Raiders. Despite Colgate’s efforts to fight back, the score jumped from 14-13 to 25-15 after a vicious run by Lehigh to end the third set.

Trailing by one game, the Raiders knew that the fourth set was crucial. A win would push the match into a fifth-set tiebreaker while a loss would end the match all together. Colgate jumped out to an 8-5 lead when Finger tallied an ace and Young contributed with a kill. The team kept the momentum going and initially opened up a five-point lead at 15-10, holding on to the advantage as the score rose to 22-15. Lehigh aggressively fought back and cut the lead to only one at 22-21. The teams were knot­ted at a precarious 24-24, only two points away from a win on either side. Colgate took a breath and seniors Colligan and Safir took the team on their back. Colligan recorded a kill and Safir went behind the line to score an ace. The Radiers’s anxiety was relieved when the set capped at 26-24, but they still had to get through a fifth set to take the match.

The teams fought fiercely through the first ten points of the match and tied at 5 each. Lehigh then took a four-point lead at 10-6 thanks to aggressive offense. Colligan put Colgate back on the map with yet another kill, but the Mountain Hawks quickly fired back and quickly took the match at a devastat­ingly close 15-12 victory.

Despite the Raiders’s drop to fourth place in the Patriot League standings, they still secured a spot in the upcoming tournament after the Lafayette win. Colgate also owns the tiebreaker advantage with Lehigh if it ever came down to it. Lehigh has only taken three sets off Colgate in their eight-set history this season.

Colgate will be back in action for its final two matches of the regularly scheduled season when it faces off against Army in West Point, N.Y. at 7 p.m. on Friday and Holy Cross the following afternoon at 3 p.m.

Contact Emma Barge at [email protected].