NEW LONDON, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team won for the third time in four matches on Thursday evening, knocking off Colby-Sawyer College, 3-1 (25-16, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17), in Coffin Field House. The Purple Knights improved to 8-4 while renewing a rivalry that had witnessed 11 meetings between 1981 and 2002, but none since. The Chargers, who won the last four North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Tournaments and automatically qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament each of those seasons, slipped to 2-17.
Senior Candace Washington (New Carrollton, Md./Parkdale) continued a torrid past week for the Purple and Gold with 19 kills on 27 attacks, a .560 hitting percentage, five blocks and three assists, improving her career blocks total to 195 and passing Tracy Carlsten '89 (194) for fourth in school history. In the past three matches, she hit .557 while averaging 16.7 kills and 6.3 blocks. Classmate Kelsey Flaherty (Cold Spring, N.Y./Haldane) added 12 kills, 13 digs and three blocks, as her 721 career kills leave her three shy of matching Katie Herb '04 for ninth in program annals.
Sophomore Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) turned in eight kills, and junior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) provided 19 assists, three kills and three blocks. First-year Sarah Rodgers (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire) totaled 17 helpers and two aces, junior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) recorded 28 digs, four assists and two aces, while classmate Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) had 16 digs and two aces. Sophomore McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) tacked on four blocks.
Senior Kelsey McCulley had seven kills and 10 digs for Colby-Sawyer, while classmate Kelsey Sullivan added six kills. Senior Laura Smolinski totaled 15 assists, 13 digs, two aces and two blocks.
Neither team led by more than three points in the opening set until the Purple Knights used a 9-2 run to widen a 13-10 lead. Flaherty had a kill and two blocks in the run, Washington added two kills, and McNamara played a hand in two blocks. Washington and Flaherty rattled off back-to-back kills to notch the final two points of the set.
Saint Michael's again used a mid-set run to pull away in the second stanza, with another key 9-2 stretch giving the visitors a 21-12 advantage. Washington's two kills and one block led the way in that time, while Flaherty had a kill and dropped an ace. After a 4-0 run later allowed the Chargers to chip within 21-17, an attack error kicked off a clinching 4-1 run, during which time Priester notched two kills before first-year Mairin King (Melrose, Mass./Mystic Valley Regional Charter School) had a kill at set point.
Four straight points allowed Colby-Sawyer to snap an early 5-5 tie in set No. 3, and it eventually extended the lead to as many as five points before Washington had four kills in a five-point run that knotted the score at 16. Another 4-0 run by the hosts made it 22-18, but King turned in a block and Maccarrone an ace to trigger an ensuing tie, at 22-22. McCulley's kill gave the Chargers an edge to begin a 2-0 run, and Flaherty's kill was met by first-year Erin Burgoyne's clinching kill.
The fourth set followed a pattern similar to the first two, with Saint Michael's pulling away in the middle of the period, this time employing an 8-1 run to push the lead to 16-8. Flaherty and Washington both had two kills in the stretch. After Colby-Sawyer crept within 19-15, the visitors ended the match on a 6-2 run, with Washington picking up a block for the 23rd point before recording consecutive kills to end the contest.
The Purple Knights' final 12 regular-season matches occur against Northeast-10 Conference counterparts, beginning on Saturday against visiting Stonehill College at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks qualified for the 2014 NCAA Tournament.