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Mariners prevail over volleyball in back-and-forth match





LEWISTON, Maine -- Maine Maritime Academy won its third straight match by edging the Bates College volleyball team 3-2 (25-23, 26-28, 25-21, 23-25, 15-12) in a non-conference match on Tuesday night at Alumni Gymnasium. It was the Mariners' first ever win against Bates, in the teams' fourth meeting. Maine Maritime rises to 8-6 on the season, while Bates drops to 5-7.

Sophomore Eliza Pyne (Atherton, Calif.) led Bates with 13 kills, while senior Rachel Colby (Willimantic, Conn.) had 12 kills and a team-high 19 digs. Sophomore Nicole Russell (Boca Raton, Fla.) had nine kills, 15 digs and four aces, while junior Grace Haessler (Portland, Ore.) dished out 40 assists to go with 12 digs and eight kills, and sophomore Caroline Gattuso (North Reading, Mass.) chipped in with 19 digs.

Mariners junior Chelsea Ward (Homer, Alaska) was the dominant player in the match, registering 25 kills, including the match-clincher in the fifth set. Ward also finished with three blocks and 23 digs. Sophomore Jennifer Dixon (Woodstock, Md.) had 40 assists for Maine Maritime, while first-year Melissa Lail (Elizabeth, Colo.) contributed nine kills and juniro Lauren Sakahara (Bellevue, Wash.) came up with a match-high 24 digs and four service aces.

The teams traded the first two sets, each decided by the minimum two points. The Mariners took a 2-1 lead by separating themselves with a 25-21 win in the third set, with Ward supplying an emphatic winning point with a straight-down spike outside Bates blockers but inside the sideline.

Bates led 16-11 in the fourth set, but called timeout when the lead dwindled to 16-15. The Bobcats came back with five straight points for a 21-15 lead, prompting a timeout by MMA. Bates got the next four points, however, for a 24-15 lead. But unforced errors on the Bobcat half grew into a scoring run for the Mariners. Bates called timeout at 24-21 following an attack error, but the lead dwindled to 24-23 before Pyne's bloop volley down the line proved unreturnable, for a 25-23 set win.

Bates led 8-6 when the sides switched in the final set, but a 5-1 run by MMA turned it into a 11-9 Mariner lead.

A service error and attack error by MMA retied the set at 11-11. The Mariners turned to Ward over and over for the final points, and the junior delivered, ending a rally with a kill for a 12-11 lead, then making it 13-11 by tooling the ball off a Bates blocker. A miscommunication on the Bates side put MMA to the brink at 14-11, but Russell's attack scraped the net before dropping into the center of MMA's half to close the gap to 14-12. A rally for the final point, which included a pair of Bates blockers stuffing one Ward spike and Russell digging out another, finally ended with a Ward kill.

Bates will play host to Amherst at the start of a NESCAC weekend on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by a home match against Middlebury on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

BATES STATS: Maine Maritime 3, Bates 2