ERIE, Pa. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team opened the season with a pair of setbacks during the Gannon (Pa.) University/Mercyhurst (Pa.) University Invitational on Friday at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center. The Purple Knights fell to Hillsdale (Mich.) College, 3-0 (25-11, 25-12, 25-9), before losing against the hosts, 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-22). Hillsdale, which improved to 5-0, has qualified for nine of the past 13 NCAA Tournaments, while the 1-5 Lakers qualified for NCAAs four times since 2008.
Sophomore Jordan Dean (Gilford, N.H./Gilford) posted five kills versus Hillsdale, senior Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) added 12 digs and two assists, while junior Sarah Rodgers (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire) collected 10 helpers and three digs. Sophomore Tanner Barton (Hudson Falls, N.Y./Hudson Falls) totaled seven digs, an ace and a block in the teams' first meeting.
Junior Paige VanderWall dropped 10 kills on 11 attacks for Hillsdale, sophomore Emily Lachmann had seven kills, while first-year Lindsey Mertz collected 14 assists. Junior Taylor Bennett dished off 11 of her own, and sophomore Taylor Wiese added 10 digs and four aces.
Consecutive points, one on a kill by Dean, brought Saint Michael's within 6-4 early in the opening set, and the Purple and Gold trailed just 9-6 before the Chargers pulled away on the strength of a 10-2 run. Early kills from Dean and sophomore Allie Statile (Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) kept the Purple Knights within 5-3 in set No. 2, but seven of the next eight points came from Hillsdale. Barton had a kill and an ace during a 3-1 run in the early portion of the final set, but Hillsdale forged a 21-3 lead en route to the sweep.
In her team's first meeting with Mercyhurst since 2008, Barton had six kills, and senior McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) posted four. Rodgers had 12 assists and seven digs, Colasanti contributed 19 digs, and first-year Katy Konow (Lebanon, Conn./Lyman Memorial) collected seven helpers and two aces.
Junior Shelby Chesko's 13 kills and three blocks paced the Lakers, and sophomore Katie Baird added 10 kills. Senior Makayla Mollé handed out 22 assists as one of two setters.
Konow's ace allowed the visitors to creep within 8-5 in the opening set before Mercyhurst went on a 10-3 run, but Statile's kill capped a 6-0 run that made it 18-14. Down 23-18, the Purple Knights committed a service error before Chesko clinched the set with a kill. Neither team led by more than three in the next set, with an early 3-0 jaunt by the hosts the longest run. A service error by Mercyhurst knotted the score at 23, but a Purple Knight attack error and Baird's kill closed the set. Saint Michael's trailed 15-12 in the final set before scoring four straight points, with Konow dropping an ace and assisting McNamara, before the teams stood tied at 18 prior to the Lakers netting five in a row, with junior Alyssa King picking up kills on each of the final three points. The hosts never again led by fewer than two.
The Purple Knights wrap up play at the Gannon/Mercyhurst Invitational on Saturday by taking on host Gannon at 11 a.m. and the University of Findlay (Ohio) at 1 p.m. Findlay competed in the past two NCAA Tournaments, and Gannon qualified for each of the last eight.