Volleyball team sweeps Connecticut College at home

Bates volleyball ended a 12-year losing streak to Connecticut College with a 3-0 victory on Oct. 13, 2017. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates volleyball team snapped a 12-year, 12-match losing streak against NESCAC rival Connecticut College in emphatic fashion Friday night in Alumni Gymnasium, sweeping the visiting Camels by set scores of 25-21, 25-19 and 25-12.

The win gave Bates (9-8, 2-5 NESCAC) sole possession of eighth place in the NESCAC for the moment and dropped Conn College (10-7, 1-6 NESCAC) into ninth place.

The Bobcats seemed to carry over their momentum from Tuesday night's 3-1 non-conference victory over Bowdoin, remaining sharp while winning their fourth, fifth and sixth sets in a row.

First-year Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) led Bates' attack with 10 kills on 21 attempts, posting a .381 attack percentage. Sophomore Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) added nine kills and tied for the match-high with 17 digs. First-year Delaney Mayfield (Santa Barbara, Calif.), making her first start for Bates, tallied eight kills. First-year Ruby Lightbourn (Los Angeles, Calif.) added seven kills and junior Claire Naughton (Darien, Conn.) came up with five kills on 12 attempts (.417). Senior Jacqueline Forney (Bloomington, Ind.) passed out 34 assists and contributed 15 digs, while sophomore Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) tied for Bates' team lead with 17 digs.

Emma Hewlin posted a match-high 11 kills for Conn College. Sam Hunter added nine kills and 17 digs and Grace McGee tallied six kills on 11 attempts (.455) while passing out 30 assists. Elle Kass and Caroline Branigan came up with 16 and 14 digs, respectively.

Bates jumped out to an 11-3 lead in the first set, with senior Augy Silver (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) serving six straight times while Stafford-Smith pounded three kills. But the Camels closed the gap to two points (21-19), taking advantage of a series of Bates errors, followed by back-to-back kills by Hewlin and an ace served up by Belinda Mullaly. Kills by Forney and Naughton made it 24-19 in Bates' favor before a ball-handling error clinched the opening set for the hosts.

Both sides played at their most precise in the second set, with the Bobcats overcoming a .302 Camel attack percentage with a .333 mark of their own. Branigan, McGee and Maddie Rust tallied three kills and zero errors apiece in the set for Conn College, while Bates committed only two attack errors as a team. Stafford-Smith dominated the frame with five kills, seven digs and a block. Bates led the entire way but never by more than five points prior to set point. Leading 22-18, Bates offset two kills by Rust with a pair of kills by Stafford-Smith, then turned to Naughton for the set clincher.

Bates stormed out to a 12-1 lead in the third set, on long service streaks by Naughton and sophomore Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.), and held off the Camels the rest of the way. Lightbourn and Echipue posted four kills apiece in the set, while Mayfield added three kills and a solo block. Echipue pounded an emphatic kill to finish off the victory in 78 minutes.

Both teams play NESCAC matches Saturday at 2pm, with Bates hosting Wesleyan and Conn College traveling to Colby.