Volleyball Weathers the Storm of Villanova Classic

Emma Barge

 

The women’s volleyball team struggled for a second weekend at the Villanova Classic where they went 1-2 overall. The Raiders were swept on Friday night by their host, and lost in a four-set battle to TCU the following day. Colgate round­ed out the tournament with a convincing sweep over Loyola.

Even in the first set of the weekend, the Raid­ers came out slow and on their toes, allowing Vil­lanova to gain a 10-5 lead through a combina­tion of successful attacks by three Wildcats and a few Colgate errors. Colgate attempted to climb back up, pushing the score to 11-8 after several kills from sophomores Lindsay Young and Kay­lee Fifer as well as senior setter Blaire Safir. The three-point gain would not be enough to sway the battle, however, and the Wildcats sealed the deal at 25-18.

Deja-vu struck the Colgate team in the sec­ond set when once again the scoreboard was illu­minated with a 10-5 score in favor of Villanova. The Raiders once again struggled to keep up and the Wildcats pushed the score to 17-9. Veterans Young and Safir made their best attempt to get the team back on track, but Villanova once again walked away with a convincing 25-17 lead with Colgate unable to cross the 20-point threshold.

In true Raider form, the Colgate women refused to go out without a fight and came out swinging in the third set of the match. They pushed the score to a 12-10 advantage with first-years Diane Seely, Kenzi Hume and Mari Faines each contributing a point to the lead alongside Young. Just as soon as Villanova fought back to tie at 12, the Raiders answered with two back-to-back kills from Faines and senior Kaylee Dough­erty to put the Raiders back on top with a 15-13 lead over the Wildcats.

Colgate domination slowly faded away as Vil­lanova came back with force to open up a 19- 16 lead. The teams traded the lead until Colgate reached a 22-21 advantage with only three points left to record a win. A pair of Raider errors – one on service and one on attack – cost Colgate the confidence they needed to seal the deal. Faines came out with one last too-little-too-late kill, but Villanova ended the set and match on a pair of kills and one Colgate error.

Day two of the tournament marked another struggle for the Colgate women, as they once again started slow in the afternoon and dropped a second match, this time to Texas Christian. De­spite the loss, Colgate played hard and recorded some significant career-highs. Fifer marked a whopping 45 assists and a team-high 16 digs. Young rounded out the offense with a final hit­ting percentage of .255 with only six errors on 47 attempts at the net. Even so, Texas Christian was able to push their seven-match winning streak to eight with four players in double figures in kills for the match.

The Horned Frogs proved their ruthless na­ture by coming out to an early 11-4 lead. The Raiders, clearly affected by the early deficit and Villanova loss suffered a serious breakdown in the mental aspect of the game, sacrificing six points on service errors alone.

Colgate turned it around, however, in the sec­ond set with an exciting 29-27 win over TCU. The Raiders came out to an initial 10-7 lead over their opponent with kills from Dougherty, Young and senior Alexis Griffith. The teams trad­ed the lead until the game was tied at 22. Young once again took the team on her shoulders and followed up with a pair of back-to-back kills. Two more TCU errors helped the Raiders post the win.

The competition continued to be fierce in the third set, with the score crawling to hit a 6-6 lock. Griffith came out swinging on one of her seven kills, and the scored leveled again at nine. The teams traded leads, gaining points not only on their own merit but also by the fortunate mis­takes made by their opponents. Colgate was able to push the score to 12-11 with a Horned Frog advantage but was unable to grasp the lead again. The set ended in a close 25-22 decision.

It seemed as though the Raiders had spent all of their energy by the time the fourth set rolled around. Instead of trading the lead, they allowed TCU to gain the 12-9 lead and sacrificed four more points on errors to push the score to 16-10 with Colgate trailing. The lead then ballooned to 19-11, making it difficult for the Raiders to make a comeback. It was left up to the middle block­ers Young and Dougherty once again to push the guide the team back into focus, but their strikes were answered back with kills from Texas Chris­tian’s Kristen Hester and Megan Munce to end the set at 25-16 with a 3-1 match score in favor of the Horned Frogs.

Colgate refused to walk away from Nevin Fieldhouse without putting one win under their belt. They recovered after their first two hard-fought matches and, with their heads held high, swept the match against Loyola on Satur­day evening. The match came down to a men­tal game, with Colgate clearly focused on their serving targets and maintaining control and unpredictability on offense.

Young continued her incredible performance for the weekend with a whopping 17 kills in just three sets and a respectable nine digs. On kills alone in the match, she tallied a very Colgate 13 percent of all points scored in the entire match. She missed her second double-double of the day by only one defensive touch and was ultimately recognized for her effort and named Villanova Classic All-Tournament team.

“Lindsay was a force all weekend,” com­mented head coach Ryan Baker. “She is becom­ing a very smart, aggressive hitter. It was great to end the weekend with a win. It was a total team effort.”

Fifer supported Young with 32 assists and nine digs of her own. Dougherty’s name cropped up in stats from all elements of the game, with eight kills, two service aces, three digs and five blocks. First-years Seely and Hume continued to impress with nine and five recorded kills, respec­tively. Sophomore libero Caitlin Cremin was the glue in the back row with 15 digs and one ace.

The first set began with the Raiders trailing 5-2. After an ace from Dougherty and a Grey­hound error, the score was tied at five-a-piece and the teams played evenly until the score hit 21-18 with Loyola in the lead. At that point, the Raid­ers completely shut down every attempt Loyola took to close the set. They tallied seven consecu­tive points with three kills from Young and a kill and block combo from Dougherty. The game capped at 25-21 with the Greyhounds caught in a daze.

It was clear that Loyola could not shake the mental impact of the seven-point streak that stripped them of a fairly comfortable lead. Col­gate was able to easily secure a 5-0 lead with Dougherty and Young continuing to lead the team at the net with devastating offensive attacks and huge defense. Dougherty was then joined by Safir to tally points from behind the line. Colgate took the lead and ran with it. They capped the game at 25-20 and set up the undeniable mental advantage in the third – and what would be the final – set.

The Raiders put away match with ease, scor­ing 68 percent of their points on kills alone with only one attack error in the entire set. It was truly a team effort as Colgate jumped ahead to a 17-9 lead with successful attacks from five different Raider women. The offense came from every direction and Colgate continued to fire rockets at the Greyhounds until the match ended in a decisive 25-15 victory.

Even before it began, coach Baker predicted the difficulty of the preseason schedule. Although the scores may not reflect it, the play of the Raid­er women continues to elevate and evolve as they play against some of the most difficult teams they will face in the 2011 season.

“I am extremely pleased with how we played this entire weekend,” said Baker. “While we want to win every match, preseason is about getting better and we are doing just that.”

The Raiders have been gearing up this week for their last tournament before the start of the regular season matches. They are excited to travel to Evanston, Ill to compete in the Wildcat Clas­sic at Northwestern. Colgate will face New Mex­ico State in their first match of the weekend Fri­day evening at 5:30 p.m. Saturday’s competition begins with Northwestern at 1:00 p.m. and ends with a final 5:30 p.m. match against Duquesne.

Contact Emma Barge at [email protected]