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Colgate Edges Navy in Volleyball Finale for Mids

Christy Rapp

Nov. 10, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy volleyball team saw its 2012 season come to a conclusion Saturday with a four-set loss to first-place Colgate at the Wesley A. Brown Field House in Annapolis. The Raiders posted a 25-20, 16-25, 26-24, 25-14 victory over the Mids in a match that featured the score being tied 23 times and the lead exchanged on 11 occasions.

Navy, which won just one Patriot League match last season and a total of five over the last three years, finished league play with a 7-7 record and an overall record of 11-15. The seven league wins is the most for Navy since 2008, and results in the Mids finishing in fifth place in the final league standings. Additionally, Navy's improvement of six league wins from last year is the largest one-year increase in league history.

The match also finishes up the careers of Navy seniors Carolyn Ewert (Bakersfield, Calif.), Christy Rapp (Royal Oak, Mich.) and Kelsey Owen (Canfield, Ohio).

"Our seniors were magnificent today," said Navy head coach Larry Bock. "They all did really great stuff. We know what we are going to get from Christy and we know what we are going to get from Carolyn. I thought Kelsey was just terrific. She wasn't playing at the end of the match today because she was a senior; she was playing because she was really good."

Colgate, which entered the week having already secured the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament, saw its league record improve to 12-2 this fall and its overall record move to 15-13. The Raiders will face No. 4 Lehigh in the semifinal round of the tournament, with the winner of that match moving on to the final to face either American or Army.

"Today's match meant nothing to either team in terms of the playoffs," said Bock, "but we were so pleased with our team leaving their hearts out on the court. They played hard until the last whistle. There was no let-up.

"The wins for this team will come. I wish we had two more months of this season, so we will have to defer that extension to next season. There was not one spectacular moment, but just a lot of small, strong steps for the team over the last two years. Our team has believed enough to buy-in this strongly and we coaches hope these players are as gratified with their effort and the results that are yet to come as we ourselves are."

Neither team was able to separate itself from the other in the first set. Navy held a pair of early three-point leads at 6-3 and 10-7 only to see the Raiders knot the score at 10-10. The Mids would take a trio of two-point leads, with the last such advantage coming at 14-12. The score was tied at 16-16 when a Navy service error gave the Raiders a one-point lead. The teams traded kills to make the score 18-17 in favor of Colgate, then consecutive kills by Mari Faines, Michelle McCarthy and Diane Seely boosted the Raiders out to a 21-17 advantage. The closest Navy could slice the lead down to was three points before the Raiders closed out the set.

Both teams would record 11 kills in the first set, but Colgate tallied just four attack errors to hit .241 in the frame while Navy committed eight hitting errors to hit .083 in the set.

Colgate carried that momentum into the start of the second set as it jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Navy answered with four consecutive points to tie the set at 5-5. The score would be tied at each point out to 9-9 when the Mids took the lead on a block from Erin Fortner (Jr., Villa Hills, Ky.) and Alex Cassel (So., Sandy, Utah). Navy would maintain a slim lead up to 13-12. The Mids then ran off four-consecutive points to build a 17-12 advantage. Ewert passed to setter Alex Karika (Fr., Cranberry Township, Pa.) for a kill, then Owen and Katie Sylakowski (Fr., Escondido, Calif.) combined for a block to make the score 15-12. Owen tallied another block, then Rapp set Karika for a kill to end the run.

Navy's lead would grow to six points at 19-13 and then seven points at 21-14 before the teams traded sideouts the remainder of the frame.

The third set would feature the score being tied eight times and the lead changing hands five times. The score was knotted at 11-11 when Colgate opened up a 15-11 lead. The margin soon grew to five points at 18-13 when the Mids slowly started to chip away at difference. Navy would eventually tie the score at 21-21 and take a 23-22 lead on a service ace from Ewert. A kill by Colgate's Kate Reilly tied the score, then Navy took a 24-23 lead when Rapp set Karika for a kill. That sent Rapp back to serve with the Mids needing one point to win the set.

After Colgate received Rapp's serve, Kenzie Hume had an attempt for the Raiders that was dug by Ewert. Her pass went to Karika who set Fortner on the right side. Fortner, who had posted 11 kills in the third set alone, pushed this attempt wide to give Colgate the set-tying point.

Sylakowski took the first swing of the next point, which was dug by the Raiders. Colgate's first attempt was blocked back by the Mids, then a free ball sent the ball back to the Navy side of the court. Karika would set Ewert, who committed an attack error of her own to give the Raiders the lead. Sylakowski again was the first option for the Mids on the next point, but her attempt was blocked by the tandem of Hume and Lindsay Young to end the set.

Fortner tallied 11 kills and two errors on 17 attempts (.529 hitting percentage) in the third set. She accounted for all but five of Navy's 16 kills in the frame, while also scoring points on three of her five service opportunities.

Colgate held a slim lead early in the fourth set until a 7-0 run gave it a 16-7 advantage. The Raiders would maintain that cushion over the rest of the set to end the 98-minute match.

Colgate's offense would total 52 kills and a .197 hitting percentage for the match, while Navy finished the afternoon with 46 kills and a .145 attack percentage. The Raiders snared 56 digs to 51 for the Mids, but Navy held a 10-7 advantage over Colgate in team blocks.

Fortner capped a superb weekend by totaling 21 kills, a .265 attack percentage, five digs and two blocks against the Raiders. This afternoon's performance came on the heels of her producing 18 kills, a .267 hitting percentage, three aces, nine digs and two blocks in Navy's five-set victory over Bucknell Friday night. She totaled 39 kills, 16 digs and four blocks over the course of the two matches that were played in less than 20 hours.

"I imagine Erin had close to 100 swings for the weekend (94)," said Bock. "Her arm has to be really tired. I am hard pressed to think of a more impressive individual performance that I have seen in the league in my brief time. It was just truly impressive."

As for Navy's seniors, Rapp grabbed 21 digs, Ewert produced seven kills, three aces and eight digs, and Owen tallied two kills, three digs and two blocks.

The 21 digs marks the fourth time this season Rapp has finished a match with at least 20 digs. Her dig average of 4.13 digs per set this year establishes a new Navy single season record, while her 757 career digs ranks ninth overall at Navy and fourth among Mids who played during the rally scoring era (since 2001). Ewert ends her career with 642 kills and a kills-per-set average of 2.62. This is despite her missing half of her freshman year and all of her sophomore season with a knee injury. Her kill total ranks eighth at Navy under rally scoring rules, while her kill average ranks eighth overall at Navy. Owen would total 37 kills, 25 aces and 102 digs in her 75-match career.

The lone Colgate player to reach double figures in kills was Young, who finished the afternoon with 15.



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