Volleyball Struggles to Keep the Lead Loses Three on the Road to New Mexico State, Northwestern and

In its last matches before the start of regular Patriot League play, the Colgate volleyball team fought hard but was unable to come out on top against any of its three formidable opponents. Ul­timately, the team lost matches to New Mexico State, Northwestern and Duquesne at the Wildcat Classic in Evanston, Illinois, taking only one game off New Mexico and one off Duquesne.

The Aggies came out strong in Colgate’s first game of the weekend, pushing to a 12-6 lead right off the bat. New Mexico continued to push the lead to 17-10 before the Raiders came back with two service aces from senior Kaylee Dougherty and kills from classmate Alexis Griffith and first-year Kenzi Hume to cut the gap to 17-14. The Aggies once again pushed their lead to six, but Colgate refused to go down without a fight. Sophomores Lindsay Young and Kaylee Fifer and first-year Diane Seely collaborated on a six-point run, each tallying a pair of kills. With the scoreboard lit 22-21, the Raiders struggled to grasp the lead, and New Mexico recorded three more kills to end the game at 25-21.

Colgate was defeated but not discouraged and played evenly with New Mexico through the first 20 points of the next set, but the Aggies once again broke away at the 14-point mark with a trio of kills from three separate attackers. New Mexico ran with this small lead and turned it into a 25-21 lead with only one set to go for the win.

Coming out to an initial 9-5 lead, the Raiders made it clear that they would not give up so easily. Kills from Hume, Seely, Fifer and Young helped push the lead even higher to 14-7. The ag­gressive offense gave Colgate the conviction it needed to seal the deal. The third set ended with the Raiders on top 25-22, with 18 of all 25 points earned coming from kills.

The smooth sailing would abruptly stop in the fourth and final set of the contest, when the Aggies came out to a 16-9 lead from four kills and a service ace. Colgate’s defense and serve receive continued to struggle for the rest of the set, and New Mexico had ‘Gate cornered at 25-21 at the end of the match.

Saturday afternoon would not bring much more hope to the Raiders, who walked off the court without putting away a single set against the Wildcats. In the first set, the Raiders allowed their Northwestern hosts to take an 11-5 lead. Colgate was unable to cut the gap by much and lost the set 25-14.

In the second set, the Raiders were able to pull ahead of the Wildcats to grasp the 11-10 lead. At that point, the Colgate offense was overwhelmed with the pressure to extend the gap and dropped three consecutive points on attack errors. Northwestern took advantage and ended the set at 25-19.

Colgate led in the third set until the Wildcats came up on its tail and tied the score at eight. The Raiders were only able to earn three of the next ten points, but they kept on pushing. They tied the score once again at 17 apiece. The teams traded points with Colgate trailing all the way and Northwestern put the final set away with a score of 25-22.

In its last match of the tournament, Colgate played evenly with its Duquesne opponent. The first two sets saw both teams take the lead at some point in the game, and in the second, neither team gained more than a two-point lead until the Raiders took a 24-21 advantage off back-to-back assisted blocks by Dougherty and Griffith. Dougherty took it upon herself to finish it off and the match was tied 1-1.

The start of the third set was close, with the teams trading points until the score reached 14-13. Then Duquesne exploded on an 11-2 run and secured the set.

Colgate had one last chance to force a fifth set, but it trailed for much of the game. Duquesne came out to an initial 10-5 lead. The Raiders were able to climb up to a 12-10 margin with a pair of kills from Young and one apiece from Hume and senior Blaire Safir. Young struck again to bring the score to 14-13, but once again the Dukes went on a late run and increased their lead to 23-17. The game ended with a 25-20 final score.

Despite Colgate’s losing record for the tournament, the team played at a high level with an extremely competitive spirit. Fifer walked away from the court with a cumulative 106 as­sists and 43 digs, recording a career-high on defense with 17 against the Dukes alone. Young has scored 10 or more kills in six consecutive matches in addition to recording her fifth double-double of the season.

After several weeks of challenging match-ups, the Raiders look forward to their first Patriot League match of the 2011 season against Navy on the road at 7 p.m. on Friday night. They will also play American in Washington, D.C. the following afternoon at 2 p.m.

Contact Emma Barge at [email protected].