NEW LONDON, Conn. – The Connecticut College volleyball team dropped a tight NESCAC matchup to Bates by a 3-1 score on Friday evening at the Charles B. Luce Field House. The Bobcats won by set scores of 25-21, 25-20, 11-25 and 26-24.
After winning the third set, the Camels carried their momentum into the fourth frame and scored the first two points with freshman Emma Roberts (Port Washington, N.Y.) serving. Bates tied the score at 2-all on a Camel attacking error, but the hots recovered by having junior Grace McGee (Portland, Ore.) distribute the ball well and set up freshman Avery Light (Sudbury, Mass.), sophomore Katie Howley (Scituate, Mass.), classmate Emma Hewlin (Los Gatos, Calif.) and senior Maddie Rust (Austin, Texas) for kills to make it 8-6. Bates, however, responded, and a seesaw battle ensued as the Camels tried to extend the match to five sets.
Following seven ties and three lead changes, senior Jenny Kellogg (Los Altos, Calif.) tied the score at 24s when she finished a pass by McGee. But the Bobcats caught a break to regain the lead, as Julia Panepinto's touch on the ensuing serve receive made its way over the net and dropped for a point. A Camel attacking error on match point allowed the visitors to clinch the win.
Bates (9-5, NESCAC 3-4) started the game strong by going on an early 8-2 run to take a 9-4 advantage in the opening set with Panepinto leading the way. The setter registered two aces and added a pair of assists during the stretch to force the Camels to burn a timeout. Connecticut College stormed back and took a 16-15 lead on a Howley kill, but the Bobcats recoverd out of a timeout of their own by getting back-to-back kills from Taylor Stafford-Smith. An attacking error by the Camels allowed the visitors to win the opening set by a 25-21 margin.
The second set was a nip-and-tuck battle which featured 11 ties and four exchanges of the lead. But after Kellogg and Rust, the Camel senior captains, teamed up for a block to deadlock the match at 17s, Bates rattled off four straight points and never loked back. Stafford-Smith put things away by finishing consecutive feeds from Julia Panepinto.
The Camels, however, owned the third set in what would prove to be the most lopsided one of the evening between the teams. Five attacking errors by the Bobcats allowed the hosts to jump out to a 9-2 advantage, and the margin ballooned to double digits at 16-6 when Light smashed a kill. McGee teamed up with Hewlin for a block and then set up three consecutive Camel points on kills to carry the match over to a tightly-contested fourth set before their momentum was derailed by Panepinto's unexpected point on a Howley serve.
Bates was paced by Stafford-Smith's double-double effort. She finished the match with 12 kills and 22 digs. Panepinto contributed 36 assists, seven digs, and a match-high three aces, while Gabi Eustache equaled a team best with 22 digs.
McGee and Howley each posted a double-double to lead the way for Connecticut College. McGee matched a career best with 52 assists and added 11 digs, while Howley recorded 15 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore Elle Kass (Los Gatos, Calif.) racked up a career-high 36 digs, which easily surpassed her previous best of 23 against Trinity earlier in the year.
Connecticut College (7-11, NESCAC 1-6) next hosts Colby tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. and will honor its two seniors – Kellogg and Rust – prior to the match.