Volleyball rallies for 3-1 victory over Bowdoin

Bates celebrates a point in a 3-1 victory over Bowdoin on Oct. 10, 2017. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates volleyball team defeated rival Bowdoin for the first time since 2009 Tuesday night in Alumni Gym, spotting the Polar Bears a first-set win and rallying for a 3-1 (16-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-20) non-conference victory.

Bowdoin (9-7) defeated Bates (8-8) by a 3-1 score in the NESCAC rivals' conference match on Sept. 16 in Brunswick.

Bates received double-digit kill totals from four players, while a fifth, first-year Delaney Mayfield (Santa Barbara, Calif.), sparked the Bobcats with a career-high nine kills with one error on 18 attempts (.444). Sophomore Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) and first-year Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) posted 12 kills apiece while junior Claire Naughton (Darien, Conn.) and first-year Ruby Lightbourn (Los Angeles, Calif.) added 10 apiece.

Bates senior setter Jacqueline Forney (Bloomington, Ind.) set a career-high with 53 assists. Sophomore Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) tallied a game-high 26 digs while Stafford-Smith and senior Augy Silver (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) posted 13 and 12 digs, respectively.

Ashley Williams had a match-high 14 kills for Bowdoin with three errors on 31 attempts (.355). Michelle Albright added 10 kills and 14 digs, while Caroline Flaharty posted nine kills and 17 digs. Lisa Sheldon led the Polar Bears in digs (23) and Kate Kiser posted 47 assists.

Bowdoin controlled the first set handily, attacking at a .345 rate with four kills by Albright and three apiece from Williams and Sydney Salle. A Bowdoin attack error made it 16-12 in the Polar Bears' favor before they finished the set on a 9-4 run. Emily King served three straight times, including an ace to make it 24-16, and Albright's kill gave Bowdoin the first set.

The Polar Bears continued to cruise early in the second set, establishing at 10-3 lead and prompting a Bates timeout. Mayfield entered the match for the first time and soon teamed up on a block with Lightbourn, then pounded her first kill two points later, making it 12-7. Consecutive kills by Lightbourn and an Echipue kill were followed by a Bowdoin attack error as Bates pulled into a 13-13 tie, then took its first lead of the match on a second Bowdoin attack error.

Flaharty got hot and tallied five kills in a 7-4 Bowdoin run that took the Polar Bears to set point at 24-20. But Bates rallied for five straight points, including three kills in a row from three different first-years, in Mayfield, Echipue and Lightbourn, to assume a 25-24 lead. Bowdoin tied the set at 25-25 after a timeout on a kill by Williams, but Echipue's emphatic kill made it 26-25 and the Bobcats evened the match at 1-1 on a Bowdoin attack error.

The third set featured a slew of long rallies, as Eustache posted nine digs in the frame and Albright and Sheldon combined for 15. Bates prevailed despite a .091 attack rate in the set, as Mayfield led all players with five kills and no errors in the frame. Bates led from an early 5-5 tie onward, and by as many as seven points (at 19-12). Bowdoin closed the gap with a 9-4 run on five Bates attack errors and a pair of kills by Williams, making it 23-21. Echipue gave Bates a 24-21 lead and sophomore Julia Panepinto's (Buffalo, N.Y.) ace gave Bates the 2-1 match lead.

Bates led the fourth set from 1-1 onward, building a 10-5 advantage and holding off Bowdoin by at least four points until the win was secured.

Bates returns to NESCAC play this weekend, hosting Connecticut College Friday at 8pm and Wesleyan University on Saturday at 2pm. Bowdoin will host Middlebury on Saturday at 1pm.