Friends and family surrounded the Colgate volleyball team this weekend as it hosted American University and the Navy Midshipmen for Family and Alumnae weekend. The team celebrated a shutout win over Navy on Senior Day in honor of four graduating players: Blaire Safir, Alexis Griffith, Kaylee Dougherty and captain Maureen Colligan, all of whom have made significant contributions during their four years of play at Colgate. The defeat over Navy was a great way to end a weekend that started with a 3-1 loss over staunch competitor, the American University Eagles.
The Raiders jumped out to an exciting and encouraging 9-3 advantage over the Eagles in the first set of Friday’s match. Dougherty and sophomore middle Lindsay Young each tallied two kills each in the run. However, the early kick was not enough to hold American at bay. They answered Colgate with a 12-6 string of their own and tied the score at 15. With that momentum, the Eagles steamrolled through the rest of the set with the Raiders trailing after them and the game capped at 25- 23. American took the 1-0 match lead by only two points.
The energy did not stop pouring out of the Eagles’s side of the net in the second set. Early on, Colgate fell to a 9-5 disadvantage. The Raiders fought back with a 4-1 run to come within one point of American, but the Eagles maintained their composure and fired back with a 15-11 run to finish off the set at 25-20.
With a sweep on the line, American took a convincing 6-1 lead. Colgate, resilient and determined to push through, answered with its own 7-1 run to tie the game at eight. The teams tallied point-for-point until sophomore standout Kaylee Fifer broke the rhythm and posted an ace to bring the score to 13-12 with Colgate on top. Classmate Caitlin Cremin put her defensive focus on hold and came out swinging from behind the line and tallied an ace of her own. The Raiders were indeed able to push through and cap the match with American unable to breach the 20-point mark. Set number three ended in a 25-19 decision and brought the match score to 2-1.
Both teams came out hungry in the fourth set with American seeking to close out the match and Colgate hanging on in hopes of evening the score. The scoreboard swapped points and leads until the set was tied at eight apiece. At that point, American pulled ahead with three points in a row. Colgate kept its spirits high, but the Eagles refused to let go of the lead. American closed out the set 25-20 after a 14-12 run and the match ended in a 3-1 set count.
“This is a disappointing loss for us,” Head Coach Ryan Baker admitted. “American is a strong team, but I also felt that we didn’t give them our best effort.”
Colgate saw a match-high 32 assists from Fifer while Dougherty grounded 15 kills. Junior outside Michelle McCarthy also hit double-digits with 11 kills of her own. Cremin, the team’s libero and strongest defensive player, tallied a game-high 15 digs.
Despite Coach Baker’s disapproval of the loss against American, the Raider women kept their heads up high walking into the gym for Saturday’s Senior Day match.
The Midshipmen hit the court running with an early 11-4 advantage thanks to tough defense against several Colgate attacks. The Raiders fired back and worked their way back into the game late in the point-count as they knotted up the score at 21. Colgate took four of the next six points and ended the set at 25-23 after an encouraging comeback. Dougherty tallied two aces in the run.
With the first set under their belts, the Raider women kept a high level urgency for set number two. Colligan put away the final kill with a strike straight down the middle to set the score at 25-20 for the set and gaining the 2-0 advantage over the Midshipmen.
This time, it was Colgate with the stage set for a sweep over its opponent. It jumped out to a commanding 10-5 lead right out of the gate. Navy battled back with a 6-2 run, but still trailed 12-11. Looking to tie it up, the Midshipmen swung at the net, but first-year middle Diane Seely met Colligan at the net to close for a towering block.
The roof took more than a point off of Navy, and a sheepish squad of Mids ducked their heads to the motivated Raiders. The final set of the match ended in a 25-19 decision and Colgate tallied its sixth Patriot League win of the season in a sweep.
It was Dougherty and Young that led the Raiders on offense during the Navy game with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Fifer upped her tally in assists from 32 in the American game to 38 against the Mids. Cremin once again came up big on defense with 13 digs, while Seely tallied the most blocks with four on the books.
The Raiders will slow down the pace to only one match this weekend against Bucknell at 4:00 p.m. in Lewisberg, PA.
Contact Emma Barge at [email protected]