Vassar Brewers Rebound With a 3-1 Win at Union

SCHENECTADY – After dropping a tough four-setter to Skidmore in its Liberty League opener on Friday evening, the Vassar College women’s volleyball team headed to Union on Saturday afternoon for its first conference road match of the season. The Brewers (8-5, 1-1 Liberty) dropped the first set before rallying to defeat the Dutchwomen (9-5, 1-1 Liberty) 25-27, 25-19, 25-16, 26-24 at the Viniar Athletic Center.

Vassar scored the first three points of the match and led 19-12 midway through the first set. A Jane McLeod kill brought the Brewers to set point at 24-15, but Union responded with a 10-0 rally that actually gave the Dutchwomen a set point of their own at 25-24. Sara Ehnstrom slammed a kill to tie it at 25-25 before Union’s Steph Libonati was credited with a kill to give her team another set point. The Dutchwomen then finished off their 27-25 comeback win with a block by Libonati and Julia Louis.

In the second set, there were eight ties and four lead changes. Vassar used a 6-2 spurt to turn an 8-8 deadlock into a 14-10 advantage before the Dutchwomen rallied back within one at 16-15. McLeod responded with a kill, though, to ignited a 6-1 run that brought the Brewers to set point. This time Vassar was able to convert, as Devan Gallagher put away a kill to end the set, 25-19, and even the match.

The Brewers took control of the third set early on, scoring the first four points of the frame and extending that margin to six points at 11-5. After Union pulled within three at 12-9, a McLeod kill started a 6-1 Vassar run that made it 18-10. Another kill by McLeod gave Vassar a set point at 24-16, and Ehnstrom followed with a kill to close out a 25-16 win for the Brewers.

It was Union that built the early cushion in the fourth set, as the Dutchwomen opened up a 6-1 edge. After Vassar rallied to tie it at 9-9, Union rattled off 12 of the next 17 points to build a seven-point advantage, 21-14. However, the Brewers countered with a 9-2 spurt to even the score at 23-23. Union got to set point on a kill by Gillian Gore, but McLeod responded with back-to-back kills to give Vassar its first match point at 25-24. Lauren Ninkovich then pounded a kill to wrap up the set, 3-1, and the contest, 3-1.

McLeod paced Vassar with 19 kills on .357 hitting. Gallagher, meanwhile, had a double-double with 18 kills and 15 digs. She also tallied four service aces. Ehnstrom also served four aces to go along with 13 kills (compared to just one hitting error). Ninkovich just missed a double-double with 10 kills and nine digs, while Annie MacMillan tallied 52 assists and seven digs. Anna Zucchero finished with a match-high 24 digs for the Brewers, who hit .286 (62 kills, 14 errors, 168 attempts) as a team.

Four different Union players reached double-figures in kills, led by Lara Atalay’s 16-kill, 17-dig effort. She also hit .405 in the match, committing just one error in 37 swings. Gore (13 kills, 19 digs) and Sage Shimamoto (47 assists, 10 digs) each posted a double-double, as well.

Katie Moss finished with 11 kills on .381 hitting, while Libonati registered 10 kills for the Dutchwomen. Emma Sprotbery contributed 13 digs, as Union held a 77-68 edge in that category. As a team, the Dutchwomen hit .227 (55-21-150) in the match.

This was Vassar’s only road contest in a six-match span. The Brewers play their next five at Kenyon Hall, starting with a 6 p.m. tilt against Stevens (13-3) on Wednesday.

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