Women's volleyball splits pair, downs Maine Maritime before falling to Keene State

Women's volleyball splits pair, downs Maine Maritime before falling to Keene State

KEENE, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team split a pair of matches on Saturday at Keene State College's Spaulding Gymnasium, moving to 6-4 on the season. The Purple Knights downed Maine Maritime Academy, 3-1 (25-15, 25-12, 21-25, 25-18), before falling to the hosts, 3-1 (25-23, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22). Maine Maritime, which has qualified for the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Tournament final the past eight seasons and advanced to four of the last eight NCAA Division III Tournaments, is 8-7. The Owls are 11-4.

Senior Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) passed the 800-dig and 700-kill plateaus on Saturday, becoming the fifth Purple Knight to ever reach both milestones for a career. With 701 kills, she moved into a tie for 10th at the school with Annalyn Gilchrist '98 while passing 11th-place Katie Ouellette '06 (691). Classmate Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) put down 12 blocks on the day to move alone into fifth in school annals with 181 for her career, leaving fourth-place Tracy Carlsten '89 (194) as the next Purple Knight for her to chase.

In the opener with Maine Maritime, Washington notched 11 kills and seven blocks, and Flaherty had 10 kills, 17 digs and two aces. First-year Mairin King (Melrose, Mass./Mystic Valley Regional Charter School) tallied five kills, and junior Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) had four kills and three blocks. Classmate Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) turned in 24 assists, eight digs and three aces, while junior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) collected 21 digs and six aces. Sophomore Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) posted eight digs and three aces, while first-year Abby Blanchet (Milford, N.H./Milford) handed out seven assists.

In a 7-7 opening set, Mulvaney and sophomore McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) turned in back-to-back kills to give Saint Michael's the lead for good before Colasanti followed with an ace. A closing 9-1 run, capped by Mulvaney's kill, clinched the set. The Purple Knights trailed 12-9 in set No. 2 before scoring the final 16 points. In that time, Washington recorded three kills and two blocks, Flaherty had three kills, and Weller notched two aces while dishing off six helpers.

The Mariners used a 9-0 run in the third set to overcome an 8-6 hole and take the final lead, ultimately scoring the final three points after junior Tess Saburn's (Basking Ridge, N.J./Mount Saint Mary Academy) kill made it 22-21. Ten consecutive points by the Purple Knights gave them a 19-6 advantage in the fourth set before they held on for the win.

Washington totaled 15 kills while swinging .481 with five more blocks against Keene State, and Flaherty contributed 11 kills, a career-high 24 digs and three aces. Sophomore Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) had eight kills, and McNamara added seven kills. Weller accumulated 42 assists, 15 digs and three aces, Moore produced 20 digs, and junior Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) added 10 digs.

The Owls pulled away in a close opening set before Saint Michael's leveled the match by using an ending 8-3 run to blow open a four-point contest in the second set. The visitors trailed by as many as nine points in the third set before Priester's kill brought them within 21-16, but Keene State scored the final four points. The teams played through 13 ties in set No. 4, with the Owls snapping the final knot, 21-21, by notching four of the final five points.

Saint Michael's continues a four-match road swing on Tuesday with a return to Northeast-10 Conference play at Merrimack College at 7 p.m.