Women's volleyball falls in home and NE-10 openers to Merrimack, 3-2

Women's volleyball falls in home and NE-10 openers to Merrimack, 3-2

COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team opened its home and Northeast-10 Conference schedules with a 3-2 (22-25, 26-28, 25-22, 25-20, 19-17) loss to Merrimack College on Saturday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights slipped to 2-3 overall, while the Warriors, who also began their NE-10 slate, are 2-13 overall.

Four Purple and Gold players had at least 14 kills, with sophomore Gabby Ratte (Kula, Hawaii/Seabury Hall/Colby-Sawyer) leading the way with a career-high 21 to go along with eight digs and three blocks. Juniors McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) and Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) and first-year Allie Statile (Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) all had 14 kills, with McNamara and Statile each reaching a career high while also turning in three blocks. Statile hit .406 during the match.

Senior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) recorded a career-high 61 assists, matching the highest figure by a Purple Knight in at least 14 seasons. Jessica Mulroy '06 was the last to reach that mark, on Oct. 15, 2005. In the process, Weller became the sixth player in program history to notch 1,600 assists for a career, upping her total to 1,636. She added 15 digs and six kills. Classmate Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) collected 31 digs for the 10th 30-dig outing of her career. She tacked on five assists. Junior Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) added a career-best 18 digs with four helpers, and senior Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) contributed 12 digs.

Senior Jennifer Cain paced Merrimack with 19 kills and 21 digs, and first-year Catherine Flaherty notched 18 kills and three blocks. Junior Mary Kate McCarroll added 15 kills with five blocks, senior Tara Stuhr posted 65 assists and 16 digs, and junior Christina Nye accumulated 30 digs.

Saint Michael's hit .325 in the opening set while leading by as many as eight points. An early 8-1 run, during which time four players had a kill, put the hosts up 9-2, and a Weller kill pushed the advantage out to 17-9. Priester's kill made it 22-14 before Flaherty dropped three kills in an 8-2 run that brought the visitors within three points, but Ratte's clinching kill gave the first set to the Purple Knights.

The second set featured eight ties and five lead changes, as neither team ever led by more than three points. Saint Michael's trailed 21-18 before Priester had two kills and Ratte one in a go-ahead 4-0 run, and the teams later stood tied at 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 apiece. McNamara's kill for the 27th point put her team on top for good, and an ensuing Merrimack attack error provided the hosts with a 2-0 lead in the match.

Statile's kill in set No. 3 put her team in front by a 7-6 margin before Cain had four kills in a 7-0 run, and Merrimack never yielded the lead. Saint Michael's chipped as close as one point on two occasions, including at 23-22 on a tandem block from McNamara and Ratte, but McCarroll responded with a kill, and a Purple Knight error ended the set. McNamara's opening kill in the fourth set was met by a 5-0 run from the Warriors, who never relinquished the lead. Ratte's kill made it 13-12, but five of the next six points went to Merrimack.

In a tied match, the teams played through nine ties and three lead changes in the fifth set. Merrimack rushed out to a 7-2 lead and held an 8-4 advantage on the change-over before Statile picked up a pair of kills in a tying 5-1 run. Cain had a pair of kills as the Warriors built their lead back to 12-10, but Ratte's kill sparked a 3-0 response. A Purple Knight error was met by McNamara's kill that pushed the edge to 14-13, providing Saint Michael's with the first of three match points, and Flaherty's kill later gave her team a 17-16 lead and a serve for the match, but Weller notched a tying kill. However, Flaherty and Cain posted kills for the next two points to cap the comeback victory.

Saint Michael's turns around and hosts Bentley University tomorrow at 1 p.m.