EASTON, Mass. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team opened its season with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-19) loss to Stonehill College on Friday evening in Merkert Gymnasium during the Skyhawks Invitational. The Purple Knights were playing their first match under first-year head coach Jesse Carpenter, while the hosts improved to 2-3 on the season.
Sophomore Gabby Ratte (Kula, Hawaii/Seabury Hall/Colby-Sawyer) had eight kills and seven digs in her first match with Saint Michael's since transferring from Colby-Sawyer College, and junior Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) added five kills. Senior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) dished off 16 assists while adding eight digs, three kills and two blocks, and junior McKenzie McNamara (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) dropped the first three aces of her career while notching three blocks. Senior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) posted 21 digs to push her career total to 1,450 while tacking on three assists, and classmate Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) added 12 digs.
Junior Katherine DeLanty posted 12 kills on 21 attacks for Stonehill, and classmate Marykay Nasby collected nine kills and seven digs. Senior Taylor Stevens had 31 assists and 11 digs, and junior Claire Manuszak had 12 digs.
After Ratte's first kill as a Purple Knight knotted the opening set at three, Stonehill used a 3-0 run to take the lead for good, but the visitors never trailed by a greater margin than three until the latter stages. Down 18-15, Saint Michael's benefited from back-to-back attack errors to draw within one, but DeLanty had two kills during a 5-1 run that put the hosts up 23-18. They never again led by fewer than four points.
A Ratte kill came amid the Purple and Gold's 6-3 start to the second set before Stonehill rallied three times to tie, but Weller's kill put Saint Michael's back in front at 10-9. However, the next five points came from the Skyhawks en route to the hosts grabbing a 17-12 edge. The Purple Knights countered with an 8-0 run behind McNamara's strong service, which included two aces, while Maccarrone, Priester and Ratte added kills. A kill and a block by DeLanty keyed a tying 3-0 run before Ratte's kill put the visitors back up 21-20, but Stonehill capped a 7-2 trek to lead 24-22. Senior Megan Mulvaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) posted a kill to draw Saint Michael's within a point, but DeLanty countered with one of her own to clinch the 2-0 match lead.
Two kills by Ratte and one by McNamara accounted for the first three points of set No. 3 before Stonehill scored the next three points, but a kill by Mulvaney and a dual block from McNamara and Weller put the visitors ahead 5-3, and McNamara's third ace made it 7-4. Nine of the next 11 points came from Skyhawks, but first-year Allie Statile's (Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) second kill in her first career set sparked a tying 4-0 run, capped by another dual block by McNamara and Weller. However, Stonehill went on a 9-2 run, and the Purple Knights never again trailed by fewer than four points.
The visitors remain at the Skyhawks Invitational on Saturday to face Dominican (N.Y.) College for the first time at 1:30 p.m. before opposing Felician (N.J.) University at 4:30 p.m. Saint Michael's last met Felician in 2009.