By Matt Faulkner
(Austin, Texas – Nov. 29, 2012) The Colgate women’s volleyball team closed out a memorable season with a great effort against No. 3 Texas on its home court on Thursday night. The Longhorns defeated the Raiders, 3-0 (25-4, 25-11, 25-15), in front of 2,145 fans at Gregory Gym.
Colgate (17-15) wraps up its incredible season with five kills from Diane Seely and three from Michelle McCarthy and Lindsay Young. Kaylee Fifer added 12 assists and Caitlin Cremin added seven digs to lead the Raiders.
Texas (24-4) showed why they are a national championship contender with Bailey Webster recording 15 kills to lead all players and Khat Bell contributed with 12 strikes as well. Hannah Allison had 41 assists on 51 of the kills by the Longhorns and Sarah Palmer had 10 digs.
Despite the loss, head coach Ryan Baker was proud of his team as they competed hard and had a dream season that he will not soon forget.
“This was a Disney-style season for us,” said Baker. “We started poorly, but finished the way we wanted to and I am so proud of this team. They will always be really special to me. I can’t wait until I am at Cotterell Court and I will be able to look up at the championship banner and think of each one of these exceptional student-athletes.”
McCarthy felt the same way, she was very proud of her fellow teammates and felt the team achieved what it wanted to achieve.
“Our goal was to make it to the tournament and we achieved that goal,” said McCarthy. “We had a great win against American to get here and I was thrilled with how we played tonight. It wasn’t our best volleyball, but we got better with every game and by the third set, we felt we were playing our game again.”
Colgate was able to get the first point of the night with a nice kill from Lindsay Young to start the first set. Texas responded with a run of 14 of the next 15 points, until Mari Faines outjumped Webster for a kill to make it 14-3 in favor of the Longhorns. Despite the run, Colgate was playing well on the back end, getting to some of the Texas offensive attacks and turning them into its own.
The run for the Longhorns continued as they finished the set off with an 11-1 advantage down the stretch to win the opening set, 25-4.
In the second set, Texas jumped out to an early 10-3 lead with kills by Webster and Bell, but Colgate hung around with two strikes from Seely. The Raiders chipped away at the lead with an ace by Allie Dyer and an assisted block from Liz Karnes andFaines to make it 12-6. Karnes and McCarthy added kills later in the set, but back-to-back kills from Khat Bell gave Texas the 2-0 match lead into the break with a 25-11 win.
The Raiders started to get their feet under themselves in the third set and it showed as the teams played evenly through the first 13 points. Colgate spread out its scoring with strikes from McCarthy, Seely, Fifer and Young to keep the Raiders within one at 7-6. The Longhorns responded with a 5-1 run to increase its lead to 12-7 on three kills from Webster, forcing a Colgate timeout.
Once again, the Raiders came back ready to compete and cut the lead down to four at 13-9 after another McCarthy kill and an error on Texas. However, the Longhorns went on a 9-2 run to expand its lead to 22-11. But the fight was still left in Colgate as the Raiders earned four-straight points on kills by Young and Katie Fauntleroy to make it 22-15. Unfortunately, after a Webster kill and two Colgate errors, the Longhorns were able to earn the 3-0 win by taking the final set 25-15.
Texas moves on to take on Texas A&M in the second round tomorrow, while Colgate finishes its season with its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1999 and a Patriot League Championship.
Baker credited his team’s excellent effort this season on his senior McCarthy and floor leader Fifer as both talked at the postgame press conference. “We had a very special year and it was because of the leadership of these two next to me,” said Baker. “It is very tough to win and I am so proud of them and how they and the team competed.”
He continued to talk highly of his one senior on the squad. “Michelle is a rock,” he mentioned. “She swung aggressively to end the season and got better as the match went on. She was steadiest player out there, both vocally and emotionally. To watch her grow from her rookie year to now, it was the best I have ever seen and something I will remember for years to come.”