Volleyball Gets Second Shot at American on Saturday

Gillian Scherz

A huge home weekend resulted in a split for Colgate volleyball. The Raiders lost to American last Friday night 1-3 and then defeated Navy 3-0 on Saturday afternoon. Had Colgate defeated American and Army simultaneously lost, the Patriot League Tournament would have taken place on Cotterell Court. As it stands, however, Army has clinched the No. 1 seed and will be hosting the Tournament, while No. 3 Colgate will play No. 2 American in the semifinals.

“I really felt we were too excited for the match which resulted in sloppy execution,” Head Coach Ryan Baker said. “American controlled the match with their serves. In order for us to compete against them, we must pass very well, which this team has done well all year. It’s too bad we couldn’t put it together, but fortunately the loss didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.”

In the match against American, Colgate was down two points early in game one, but then tied it up at 9-9. Unfortunately, American then took off with the rest of the set, dominating particularly thanks to their tall front row creating a problem for the Raiders. The Eagles won game one 25-13.

The Raiders came out strong for set two, however, snatching up the first two points. Colgate maintained a lead until American tied it up at 6-6, but Colgate moved back on top with a kill from first-year Kaleigh Durket, followed by a kill by junior Casey Ritt, and an ace from junior libero Devon Applegate. The Eagles caught up at 10-10, but again Colgate stole back possession and ran up a few points, including another ace, this time from senior co-captain and setter Meghan Fanta. American gained the lead at 15-14, but a time out by Colgate threw off the Eagles and forced a service error. The lead then bounced back and forth between the teams. American took the biggest lead at 23-20, and a Colgate time out worked its magic again, forcing a side out. The Raiders began closing the gap to 22-23, but American used a time out as well and pushed ahead to 24-22. On American’s game point, a kill by Durket gave Colgate 23 points, but it wasn’t quite enough, as the Raiders lost game two 23-25.

In game three, Colgate again snatched up the first point and ran away with a lead, with enthusiasm exploding at 5-2 with an ace from junior outside hitter Logan Keala, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian.” The Raiders stepped their net game up immensely in this third set as well, including some serious blocking by Ritt. An energy-boosting kill from sophomore Maureen Colligan at 14-10 looked like it was going to push the Raiders on another point surge, but the Eagles somehow took the next few points to tie it up at 15, and the score again went back and forth, with neither team leading by more than one point until a back-row attack from Keala landed on the Eagle floor, making it 21-19 Colgate. A double-block by Dougerty and Durket sealed point 22 for the Raiders, and back-to-back kills from Colligan put Colgate at game point, where a successful block finished it off at 25-20.

Colgate did not take the first points of set 4, but spent the beginning of the game battling their way back from a deficit. Finally, with kills by Durket and Keala, a block by Keala, and two net errors on the Eagles side gave Colgate their first lead of the game. The Flyin’ Hawaiian had two more murderous kills at 11-10 and 12-12 to get possession back for ‘Gate after a couple of errors.  However, the Raiders could not hold on long enough, and let American slip away with a 20-13 lead before the Eagles fudged up a freeball and set up Ritt for a nice kill. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Raiders, and American stole the victory, 25-16.

Overall, Durket led the way for the Raiders at the net with 12 kills, and Ritt followed her with 10. Dougherty, Keala and Colligan added nine, seven and six, respectively. Fanta dished out 20 assists and sophomore Blair Safir put up 14.

Defensively, Applegate brought up 13 digs, while Keala had 10. Fanta and Durket each contributed 8.

On Saturday, the Raiders faced off against Navy in the Senior Day match. The pace was much more favorable for the Raiders, as they took the first game 25-14. The second set involved a little more competitive action, with a tied score occurring five times throughout the game, with the last at 15-15. Beyond that point, the Raiders controlled the game, finishing the set 25-19. A tough battle ensued throughout the beginning of game three as well, until the score was tied 14-14, after which Colgate destroyed Navy, allowing them only one more point and capturing the win, 25-15.

“Against Navy, we really dominated the net with our block,” Coach Baker said. “Navy is a very offensively minded team but we were able to force their hitters into making a lot of errors. We also serve received much better than the previous night which enabled us to run a balanced attack.”

Durket led that attack with eight kills on the night, and Dougherty added six. Fanta had 28 assists, and Applegate led the defense with eight digs, while Durket chipped in seven.

The Patriot League Tournament kicks off on Saturday, and Colgate has the opportunity to seek revenge on American in the semifinals.

“We really won’t be implementing anything new this week,” Coach Baker said. “Rather, we will be trying to fine tune some important areas of the game for our semifinal match versus American. We need to put together two good matches which we are very capable of doing if we stay composed and confident.

The semifinal match for Colgate begins at 6 p.m., following a matchup between Army and Lehigh. The winner of each match will participate in the finals on Sunday at 4 p.m., where the champions will earn a bid to the 2009 NCAA Tournament.