Volleyball Begins Patriot League Play 1-1

The Colgate women’s volleyball team broke even in the first weekend of Patriot League play with a 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22) win against Navy and a 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 16-25, 22-25) loss to American University, who currently leads the Patriot League after the weekend’s matches.

The Navy team saw a particularly strong offense coming from senior tri-captains Casey Ritt and Logan Keala with 19 and 11 kills, respectively.

“The key to our offense for Navy was our speed,” Ritt commented. “Our defense did a great job getting the setters’ balls where we could run all three hitters as options, and so we were able to run fast combination plays, making it particularly difficult for Navy to block our hitters.”

The game opened with a 10-4 lead for the Raiders thanks to a pair of service aces from senior tri-captain Devon Applegate and a strong offense led by Keala, who went on to cap the set with a kill for the win. The senior triad has led the team throughout the season.

“Devon has done a phenomenal job consistently executing on defense all year and had been getting some great ups, and Logan is really bringing her crafty hitting style to the outside, allowing us to really mix up our offense,” Ritt explained. “In the end, it’s a team effort, and all three senior captains balance out the court with our experience.”

Set two, however, was not handed to the Raiders. Navy fought back with more tough offensive plays to push their lead to 15-10 and then 20-16. The Colgate women battled back to take five consecutive points – two kills by Ritt and three from Navy errors – but Navy ended the game and took the win at 25-22.

The third and fourth sets both marked wins for the Colgate women. The success stemmed from a favorable combination of strong Raider offense and errors on Navy’s end, both forced and unforced. The fourth set saw much more back-and-forth action, but a kill by sophomore Kaylee Dougherty secured the Colgate lead at 17-16. A few clutch kills from the Navy squad tied the game up at 22-22, but the Raiders were able to pull ahead again to secure the win.

On Saturday, the Raiders found themselves in a tough spot. Up against the American University Eagles, a historically difficult team to beat, the Raiders needed everything to fall into place.

“The gameplan going into this match was no different than any other. We knew they were good in years past, but we also knew that we could win this match,” Keala said of the team strategy going into the match.

After the first two sets, it seemed as though the game was already lost. Despite an impressive serve-receive performance by Applegate, most of the sets were shot to the outside hitters. Keala and junior outside Maureen Colligan were forced to work hard to keep the Eagles on their toes as they received set after set at the pin. The Raiders were gifted a few points towards the end of the second set thanks to errors on the American side of the net, but were unable to secure the win.

The break between the second and third sets seemed to set a new tone for the team. After starting completely anew with a peppering warm-up and team discussion, the Raiders were fired up as they went into the game down 0-2. The level of communication and enthusiasm was enough to help the Raiders stay in system and run more complicated and clean offensive plays against the American blockers, who were often too slow to get around the ball. On serve-receive, the Raiders were able to score on first-ball-kills off of the consistent passing by Applegate and first-year Allie Dyer. It was clear that the energy coming from the Colgate side intimidated the once-comfortable American team, and the Raiders walked away with a devastating 25-14 win against the Eagles.

Unfortunately, the excitement of game three did not carry over to the fourth set, where once again communication on the home side faltered and the Raiders fell back into the practice of scrambling on out-of-system balls. In contrast to the quick and efficient plays of the third set, the fourth set saw long, drawn-out points with less directed passing and a struggling offense.

“After the break, we knew we had to change something and we came out on fire,” Keala said. “I definitely think that fire translated into the fourth game, however a few crucial errors set us back a few points and it was hard to come back after that.”

The score was close throughout the set, with the Raiders regularly breaking even with the Eagles, but never reaching a comfortable lead. Consistency was the issue in this match, and American walked away with the game win at a close 25-22 that would also end the match.