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Volleyball wins St. Joseph's Invitational championship

STANDISH, Maine -- After falling to St. Joseph's College in Friday's season opener, the Bates volleyball team reeled off three straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over St. Joe's in the championship match on Saturday, to win the four-team St. Joseph's Invitational.

"We played a lot better over the course of the weekend," said head coach Margo Linton. "We had five freshmen getting significant time for us, so it was nice to see everyone starting to jell together."

First-year Kelsey Berry (Hollis, N.H.) amassed 15 kills in the championship match to lead the Bobcats (3-1) offensively. Fellow first-year Mary Deneen (Windsor, Conn.) added nine kills against just two attack errors, while senior captain Eliza Pyne (Atherton, Calif.) served up six aces and added 11 kills. Sophomore setter Tess Walther (Santa Monica, Calif.) had 35 assists and three kills in the win.

Senior captain Nicole Russell (Boca Raton, Fla.) tallied 35 digs in the match en route to claiming tournament MVP honors. Berry and Pyne joined Russell on the all-tournament team.

The Bobcats spotted the Monks the first set by a 25-20 score, then stormed back to sweep the next three, 26-24, 25-15 and 26-24. "Coming back to win that second set was a sign of good composure," said Linton.

Earlier on Saturday, Bates defeated Husson 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-13) to clinch a spot in the tournament championship. Walther paced the offense with 33 assists, while Berry and Pyne shared the team lead in kills with nine apiece. Russell contributed a team-high 16 digs with three kills.

The Bobcats opened the tournament, and their season, with their first loss to St. Joe's in the past 10 meetings, a streak dating to 1997, by a 14-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-20 score.

Sarah Hawkes led the Monks with nine kills and added 14 digs and four blocks in the win. For Bates, Pyne and Deneen accounted for 11 kills apiece. Russell tallied 37 digs, six kills and four aces, while Walther registered 36 assists and eight digs, and first-year Brynn Wendel (Boxford, Mass.) tacked on seven kills. First-year Laryssa Schepel (Flemington, N.J.) pitched in with 17 digs.

Bates evened its record with its first win of the season in the Friday nightcap against Lyndon State. Bates hammered Lyndon 25-4 in the opening set, then dropped the second set before prevailing by the roller-coaster score of 25-4, 19-25, 25-7, 25-13. Pyne had 10 kills with only two errors to go with a whopping eight aces, and Berry added nine kills against two errors.

The Bobcats will play host to Husson in their home opener Tuesday at 7pm.

Friday's Box Scores:

St. Joseph's 3, Bates 1

Bates 3, Lyndon State 1

Saturday's Box Scores:

Bates 3, Husson 0

Bates 3, St. Joseph's 1 (Championship Match)