Oct. 5, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- After winning two of the first three sets that together were decided by a total of seven points, Colgate outhit the Navy volleyball team .184-.000 in the fourth set to defeat the Midshipmen Saturday afternoon at the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis. The Mids won the first set by the score of 25-23, but lost the final three sets to the Raiders by scores of 25-22, 26-24 and 25-19, respectively.
"Colgate passed the ball so well today," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "We were throwing some heavy duty serves at them. Their first contacts were great. I didn't think we were our passing was all that bad today, but Colgate's passing was exceptional."
Colgate (11-5, 4-0 Patriot League) jumped out to a 16-10 lead over Navy (6-9, 2-2) midway through the first set. The Raiders, winners of the 2012 Patriot League Tournament, still held a 21-18 lead later in the set when Erin Fortner (Sr., Villa Hills, Ky.) knocked down a kill. That was followed by a service ace from Alli Graf (Fr., Annapolis, Md.) that pulled the Mids to within 21-20. After a Graf service error, Alex Cassel (Jr., Sandy, Utah) and Gaby Smith (Fr., Virginia Beach, Va.) notched consecutive kills to tie the score at 22-22. Cassel and Graf would then team up for a block to give Navy a 23-22 lead.
A Colgate timeout ensued, then Lindsay Young posted a kill for the Raiders to tie the frame. Fortner followed with a kill to take Navy to set point, on which Cassel and Olivia Yeager (So., Lutz, Fla.) combined for a block to give the Mids the opening set.
Navy outhit Colgate .294-.132 in the opening set win. The Mids totaled just one more kill than the Raiders did in the frame, 14-13, but Navy accrued 5.0 team blocks to just 1.0 for Colgate.
The second set was tied at 12-12 when a 6-0 Colgate run gave the Raiders an 18-12 lead. The Navy deficit was still five points at 21-16 when the Mids made another late run. A Yeager kill was followed by a Colgate attack error, then a block by the duo of Alex Karika (So., Cranberry Township, Pa.) and Katie Sylakowski (So., Escondido, Calif.) pulled the Mids to within two points at 21-19. Karika promptly fed Yeager for a kill to make the score 21-20.
Colgate's Kathleen Harris blocked Sylakowski to make the score 22-20, but a Harris attack error sliced the margin back down to one point. Sylakowski answered with a kill to tie the set at 22-22. Colgate would notch back-to-back kills to build a 24-22 lead, then Karika was blocked by Kenzie Hume to close out the set.
Navy's best start to a set in the match took place in the third set as the Mids built a 13-8 lead. Colgate quickly chipped away at the margin and tied the frame at 15-15. The score would be tied five more times, including at 21-21 when a 3-0 run by the Raiders gave them a 24-21 lead and the chance to serve for the set. A Fortner kill staved off the first chance for Colgate to win the set, then an attack error by Diane Seely made it a one-point margin. Fortner would block Lindsay Young coming out of a Colgate timeout to tie the score at 24-24. A Seely kill gave Colgate its fourth opportunity to serve for the set, and this time it converted the chance when Cassel recorded an attack error.
The fourth set would be tied seven times through 16-16 when Colgate went on a 4-0 run to take a 20-16 advantage. After a Yeager kill, the Raiders scored consecutive points to open up a 22-17 cushion on their way to closing out the set and the match.
"Colgate is such a good technical team," said Bock. "They just play the game real well. They make the other team earn every point. What was fun today was that we earned a lot of our points, but that can be physically and emotionally draining to a team. That is an improving area for us.
"We have to win these types of matches where our players play so hard out there. That's up to us coaches to get them over the edge. That's not an `if,' but a `when.' We are coming on as a team."
Navy was outhitting Colgate .226-.160 through three sets when the Mids were held to their .000 percentage in the fourth set. The Mids still outhit the Raiders .177-.166 in the match. Blocking played a large role in the defensive success of the Mids. Navy tallied 16.0 team blocks on the afternoon, a total that was double what Colgate finished the match with. However, the Raiders still held a 57-49 advantage over the Mids in kills for the match.
"We have simplified our blocking lately," said Bock, "and that appears to be the right move. We also are being risk takers out there a bit more, which does lead to our being in the net more often. But that is a good trade-off for us."
Fortner and Cassel led the Navy offense with 14 and 13 kills, respectively, while Yeager just missed reaching double figures in kills by just one. Fortner also added 10 digs and a total of six blocks, while Cassel led Navy with seven blocks. Other defensive numbers of note included Graf snaring 17 digs, J.B. Loomis (Jr., Havertown, Pa.) hauling in 10 digs and Sylakowski recording five blocks.
Seely's 15 kills led all players in the match, with Hume adding 13 kills and a .375 attack percentage.
Navy will take to the road for its next three matches, the first two of which will be played Oct. 11 at Holy Cross and Oct. 12 at Army.