COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team began a season-ending two-match homestand with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-16) loss to Merrimack College on Tuesday evening in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights slipped to 6-14 overall and 1-12 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Warriors won their fifth straight in improving to 15-7 and 7-5.
Junior Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) paced the hosts with 11 kills on .350 hitting while picking up two blocks. Classmate Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Parkdale) and first-years McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) and Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) all tacked on five kills, and sophomore Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) handed out 31 assists. Classmate Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.H./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) notched 27 of her team's 45 digs, including 24 in the first two sets. In improving her career total to 861, she passed Jess McLeod '14 (849) and Amy Manougian '09 (850) to move into ninth in program history. Moore is 12 shy of eighth-place Tracy Peterka '13 (873).
Senior Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y./Saint Anthony's) led Merrimack with 13 kills, classmate Aliya Rakhmetova (Arlington, Va./Washington-Lee) had 12 kills on .600 hitting, and senior Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass./Central Catholic) posted 10 kills. Sophomore Tara Stuhr (Huntington Beach, Calif./Huntington) totaled 45 assists, while junior Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif./Valley Christian) collected 23 digs.
Neither team led by more than three points in the opening set, which involved 10 ties. After yielding two points to fall behind by a 23-21 count, Saint Michael's came out of a timeout with back-to-back kills by McNamara and Washington to knot the set, but Gosselin's go-ahead kill was followed by a Purple Knight attack error.
Set No. 2 was similarly close, as four points proved to be the largest lead. Saint Michael's held its largest edge at 9-5 before the Warriors scored four straight points to forge the second of nine ties. Weller dropped an ace to put the hosts up 13-12, but the visitors countered with another 4-0 run. However, sophomore Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) posted a kill to later tie the score at 16. With Merrimack ahead 21-18, Priester picked up a kill prior to a Warrior error, and Saint Michael's trailed by one, but the visitors scored four of the final five points.
Saint Michael's trailed 9-4 early in the third set before Washington collected her second kill in a three-point span to knot the set at 11. Merrimack tallied the next three points to ultimately take the lead for good, but the hosts crept to within 15-14 and still had their deficit at 19-16 before the Warriors scored the final six points.
The Purple Knights conclude their season on Saturday when they host American International College for Senior Day at 12 p.m.