Stafford-Smith, Naughton lead volleyball to 3-1 win over Southern Maine

Angel Echipue (left) and Taylor Stafford-Smith (center) combine on a block during Bates' 3-1 win over the University of Southern Maine on Sept. 12, 2017. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates volleyball team overcame a hot start by the University of Southern Maine, losing the first set before rallying to defeat the Huskies 3-1 (14-25, 25-10, 25-14, 25-20) in their home opener Tuesday night in Alumni Gymnasium.

Led by Jess Williamson and Jamie Jannarone, USM (5-2) attacked at a scorching .441 percentage in the first set, building leads of 6-2, 9-4, 12-5, and 16-6 en route to the 25-14 set win. Jannarone's three consecutive kills put the Huskies ahead 16-6, and she registered five kills in the set against no errors on seven attempts. Williamson pounded seven kills in the set on nine attempts with no errors and added three digs to the cause. USM closed out the set with four straight points, clinching the set on a Bates attack error.

Bates (3-2) regrouped right away for the second set, starting out with a kill by junior Reilly Murphy (Marshfield, Mass.) and posting a 7-1 lead on first-year Ruby Lightbourn's (Los Angeles, Calif.) kill. Junior Claire Naughton (Darien, Conn.) put down three straight kills and first-year Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) made it four points in a row for an 11-2 Bates advantage. Bates scored the set's final four points, two on Naughton kills. Sophomore Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) totaled five digs in the set, while USM's Mariah Garcia countered with seven digs.

The Bobcats again established early control in the third set, posting a 9-4 lead before USM fought back with a 5-3 run, featuring two kills by Williamson. A countersurge by Bates finished out the set for a 25-14 final count. Sophomore Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) and Naughton combined for nine kills with no attack errors on 14 attempts in the set.

Stafford-Smith posted five kills again in the decisive fourth set and senior setter Jacqueline Forney (Bloomington, Ind.) was pressed into making seven digs to close out the match.

Stafford-Smith finished with a team-high 15 kills against only two attack errors for a .361 attack percentage. Her 10 digs marked her third double-double this season and she added three blocks to the cause. Naughton chipped in 10 kills on .276 attacking while Echipue added nine kills and three blocks. Forney led the Bobcats with 41 assists and 15 digs while Eustache added 14 digs. Lightbourn served up a match-high four aces with five kills and nine digs.

Williamson tallied a match-high 17 kills in the match for USM. Nicole Schmitz passed out 35 assists and added 10 digs, while Garcia notched a match-high 18 digs.

Bates will open NESCAC play at Tufts on Friday at 8pm, while USM opens Little East play Saturday at Western Connecticut State at 12pm.