COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College women's volleyball team fought off nine match points to force a fourth set before Bentley University pulled away in a 3-1 (25-15, 25-16, 27-29, 25-18) loss on Sunday in the Ross Sports Center. The Purple Knights slipped to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Falcons moved to 3-11 while beginning league action.
Junior Megan Priester (Dover, N.H./Dover) and sophomore Gabby Ratte (Kula, Hawaii/Seabury Hall/Colby-Sawyer) each posted 12 kills for the hosts, with Ratte adding 10 digs, and first-year Jordan Dean (Gilford, N.H./Gilford) had a career-high 10 kills. Classmate Allie Statile (Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) notched eight kills, and senior Catie Weller (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West) posted 40 assists, 20 digs and two aces.
Senior Natalie Moore (Burnt Hills, N.Y./Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake) had 33 digs for the 11th 30-dig performance of her career while adding eight assists from her libero position. Junior Julia Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville) contributed a career-high 22 digs, and senior Natalia Maccarrone (Hingham, Mass./Notre Dame Academy) collected 13. The Purple Knights' 110 digs were their most since Oct. 31, 2006, notching 16 more than the Falcons, and Saint Michael's also had 52 kills to Bentley's 51.
The Falcons committed only 15 attack errors while picking up 12 blocks. First-year Rachel Bruno had 15 kills and five blocks while swinging at a .316 clip, and junior McKenna Buck totaled 12 kills on .600 hitting with six blocks. Senior Lauren van Buren and junior Shannon Kelly both turned in nine kills and 19 digs, with Kelly adding four blocks, and senior Allie Rotkin distributed 42 assists to go along with 11 digs. Junior Celia Cristofoli posted 27 digs.
Statile rattled off kills on consecutive Purple Knight points, and the hosts trailed just 7-5 in the opening set before yielding a 7-2 run. McNamara responded with a kill before a Bentley error made it 14-9, and Saint Michael's was still down 16-10 before the visitors slowly used a 9-5 run to take the set. Six straight Falcon points made it 6-1 in the second set, but Ratte's kill edged her squad within 10-7. Back-to-back kills by Bruno capped a 3-0 run that gave Bentley a 17-9 lead, and the lead never shrunk to less than five.
Set No. 3 featured three early ties, but van Buren picked up two kills to key a 5-0 run that made it 12-7, and the Falcons slowly extended their lead to 24-17. Facing match point, the Purple Knights rattled off a 7-0 run behind the strong service of Ratte, who had one ace in the stretch, while Dean and McNamara both collected two kills. An attack error made it 25-24 in favor of the visitors, and Dean's tying kill was met by one from Bruno, again bringing Bentley within a point of victory. After Statile's kill capped a 2-0 run and Bruno provided a tying kill, Bentley committed a service error, and Ratte dropped a kill to clinch the third set and force a fourth.
The fourth set saw Bentley push out to a 5-1 lead before Dean and Maccarrone had kills in a tying 4-0 jaunt. Now down 7-5, Saint Michael's led 10-8 thanks to a 5-1 run during which Priester notched two kills and a block and McNamara had a kill and a block apiece. The next five points came from Falcons, but the hosts went back up 16-13 when Weller played a hand in five points of a 6-0 run, with two aces, two assists and a kill. However, van Buren's two kills sparked a match-ending 12-2 run, as the visitors never came closer than 21-18.
The Purple Knights play only once between now and Oct. 11, heading to Stonehill College next Saturday for a 1 p.m. match.