By Amie Canfield
ONEONTA – Powered by a 39-kill effort from rookie Hailey Hayes, the Vassar College women’s volleyball team earned a pair of victories in tri-match action on Saturday. The Brewers defeated Oneonta State, 3-2 (25-19, 25-17, 19-25, 23-25, 15-10) followed by a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-14) win over Alfred. Vassar is now 5-6 on the season after the successful Saturday action.
The opening set saw the Brewers jump out to a 5-0 advantage, aided by a number of Red Dragon errors, along with a pair of service aces from senior setter Madison Wilson. Oneonta battled back, getting close, but the teams continued to trade points with Vassar holding the edge. A kill from rookie outside hitter Hailey Hayes, combined with an ace from senior utility Sara Ehnstrom and a final strike by sophomore hitter Ava Casalino gave Vassar the 25-19 first set win.
Second set saw the Brewers trailing early, but coming back with a kill from rookie hitter Julia Hale, an ace by Hayes, coupled with a kill from senior hitter Camille Donald for the 5-3 early lead. Vassar used a great burst late to build up a lead Oneonta could not come back from, powered by back-to-back kills from Hayes enroute to the 25-17 win and a 2-0 match advantage.
Third set action saw the Brewers open a 5-3 lead behind a kill from Wilson and a pair of Oneonta errors, but the homestanding Red Dragons battled back behind a pair of Vassar errors and an ace from Sophia Gerace. Oneonta used an 8-0 run in the middle of the set, including four aces from Kayla Rende to take a significant lead. Kills by Wilson, Hale and Hayes gained pulled it back to a 23-19 deficit for the Brewers. Despite the momentum, the Brewers were unable to stop the Red Dragons, who forced the fourth set with a 25-19 win.
In the fourth set, the two teams battled back and forth, but it was the Red Dragons that forged ahead with a 13-9 advantage behind several Vassar errors. The Brewers later pulled it to within three (17-14) behind a kill from rookie outside hitter Morgan Miller and an Oneonta error. Back-to-back kills and consecutive aces from Ehnstrom tied the set at 18-all.
It was a close battle that continued over the final points. Vassar took the 21-19 edge behind a pair of kills from Hayes, but Oneonta battled back, capitalizing on two errors from the Brewers to tie it at 21-all. Another VC error tilted the set in Oneonta’s favor, but a Casalino kill once again tied it at 22 apiece.
In the end, it came down to another Brewers error and an ace from Rende for Oneonta to secure the 25-23 set win and force a fifth and deciding set.
The Brewers trailed in the fifth set, but took a 7-5 advantage behind four straight points to force an Oneonta timeout. Leading the way was a Donald kill, followed by three straight Red Dragon errors.
It remained a very close set as the Brewers sat with only a three-point (11-8) margin after a Casalino kill. The set deficit for the Red Dragons closed further as multiple VC errors made it an 11-10 margin for Vassar. Another strike from Ehnstrom and errors by the Red Dragons led to the 15-10 set win and the 3-2 match victory for the Brewers.
Hayes led the way with a career-and-match high 23 kills. She also added an assist, an ace, a block assist and 16 digs.
Ehnstrom recorded 12 kills with a team-high three service aces, adding 12 digs, while Hale notched eight kills with two block solos, two block assists and two digs. Wilson finished with a match-best 40 assists, while sophomore libero Maya Levine had two service aces and a team-high 20 digs.
Vassar’s second match of the day saw them take on the Saxons and the Brewers cruised to a 3-0 victory. In the opening set, it was a close score until the middle frame as VC utilized two Ehnstrom aces, paired with kills from Casalino and Donald to take a solid lead. The Brewers continued to hold the advantage late, capitalizing on four of the last five points, aided by two kills from Casalino, for the 25-19 set win.
Second set action was much tighter despite the Brewers opening with a 6-1 lead. Leading the charge during the opening run was a pair of kills from Casalino and Donald. Alfred closed the gap behind several errors from the Brewers, but Vassar continued to lead.
Holding a 24-19 advantage, the Saxons battled back to make it a 24-22 game, but the Brewers closed it out for the 25-22 win.
The third and final set saw the Brewers open strong with a 4-0 advantage. Vassar later used a 5-0 run, powered by back-to-back kills from Hayes to take a commanding lead and later earn the 25-14 set win for the 3-0 match victory.
Hayes added another 16 kills to her effort on the day, finishing as the match leader. She also had a block assist and nine digs. Wilson posted 26 assists with 10 digs and two service aces, while Ehnstrom added seven kills, three aces, 11 digs and a block assist. Levine posted a team-best 13 digs, while Casalino added five kills and two block assists.
Vassar returns to action next weekend when it returns to Liberty League play.