By Amie Canfield
SCRANTON, PA – The Vassar College women’s volleyball team concluded action at the 2021 University of Scranton Invitational on Saturday, shouldering tough losses to Lebanon Valley College and Western Connecticut State University at the John Long Center. The Brewers (0-3) fell to the Flying Dutchmen by a 3-0 margin to open the day, before concluding action with a narrow 3-2 loss to the Colonials.
In the opener against LVC, it was a hard fought battle as the Brewers shouldered a 25-21 loss in the first set. Second set action was another tough back-and-forth as the Flying Dutchmen pulled out the 32-30 set win. That set was tight throughout as neither squad led by more than three points at any given time. Locked in a 24-all score, the Brewers grabbed the lead off an LVC error, but the Flying Dutchmen battled back, tying things once again and adding set point off back-to-back kills from Reily Shelly. A kill from rookie Julia Hale tied things once again and the two teams continued the battle until the 29-28 margin. With Vassar leading following a kill from sophomore Ava Casalino, a pair of strikes from LVC pushed them ahead once more 30-29. Senior Claire Basler-Chang added a kill of her own to tie at 30-all, but a kill from Grace Powell and a Vassar error gave the Flying Dutchmen the set win.
Lebanon Valley concluded the win in the third, powering out to a 23-15 margin, including back-to-back service aces from Madison Kreider. Facing match point, the Brewers laid down four straight points, paced by two attacking errors from LVC and kills from rookies Morgan Miller and Hailey Hayes, but the Flying Dutchmen secured the win on an Olivia Nace strike.
Basler-Chang paced the Brewers once again, laying down 13 kills, while adding 13 digs.
Casalino posted six kills, while Hale added four kills and two digs. Defensively, senior Madison Wilson chipped in with seven digs, two block solos, a block assist and 31 assists, while junior Kasey Drake had a team-high three service aces. Senior Sara Ehnstrom led the Brewers with a match-best 17 digs in the match. For LVC, Shelly recorded a match-best 18 kills. Mikiah Sangrey had nine kills and 11 digs with two aces, while Nace recorded six kills.
In the second match against Western Connecticut, Vassar opened with a first set win, battling back from an 11-8 deficit behind a kill from Hayes, an ace from Drake and a pair of errors on the Colonials to go up 12-11. West Conn tied it once again but the Brewers continued to bounce back. Holding a 16-14 lead, VC fired off six straight points, including three straight service aces from Wilson for the 23-15 edge. West Conn added a pair of points, but Ehnstrom closed out the 25-17 win with a kill and an ace.
Despite that momentum, the Brewers could not hold off the Colonials in the second and third set, finding themselves down 2-1 following scores of 25-13 and 25-7. Heading into the fourth set, Vassar found themselves down 9-5, but a 5-1 rally backed by a kill from Basler-Chang and an ace from Wilson, saw the Brewers tie things at 10-all. Western Connecticut rebounded, jumping back out to a 16-12 lead, but Vassar once again found their groove. The Brewers fired off six of the next seven points, aided by two kills and a service ace from senior Jamie Kesten to slide into an 18-17 advantage. The Colonials tied things once again, but a series of errors and a kill from rookie Frannie Anthony-Brumfield pushed VC to the edge at 24-19. West Conn closed the gap to two (22-24), but a Basler-Chang kill sent it to a deciding fifth set.
It was a back-and-forth start, but the Colonials captialized on a number of errors and a pair of service aces from Rory McMaster to jump out to the 11-4 advantage. Miller laid down three kills for the Brewers down the stretch, but West Conn once again took advantage of errors to seal the match win with a 15-7 set victory.
For the third straight match, Basler-Chang reached double-figures, leading the Brewers with 11 kills, an assist, two service aces and 16 digs – also a team high. Miller added 10 kills with four digs, while Wilson had 29 assists and a team-best four service aces. Western Connecticut saw Abbi Debes lead the field with 14 kills and a match-best six block solos. Olivia Monteleone had a match-high eight service aces to go along with a match-best 17 digs, while McMaster had 40 assists.