Volleyball team rebounds to roll past Colby

Ruby Lightbourn and the Bates volleyball team defeated Colby 3-1 on Sept. 21, 2018. (Samuel Mironko for Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates volleyball team dropped the first set but won the next three to capture their first NESCAC victory of the season, 3-1 (23-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18) over Colby Friday night in Alumni Gymnasium.

Bates (4-3, 1-2 NESCAC) will host Brandeis University Saturday 11am in a non-conference match. Colby (3-6, 0-3 NESCAC) will face Brandeis at Bates afterward, with a scheduled time of 1pm.

Junior Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) led Bates with 13 kills with a .273 attack percentage, adding eight digs. Sophomore Ruby Lightbourn (Los Angeles, Calif.) contributed 11 kills and nine digs. Junior Samantha Schecter (Riverside, Conn.) made a career-high seven kills on 16 attempts (.312), adding three block assists, and sophomore Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) posted six kills, five service aces, four digs and two block assists.

Bates middle hitter Reilly Murphy (Marshfield, Mass.) had a big impact on defense with five blocks (1 solo) in addition to four kills; junior Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) led all players with 24 digs. Junior Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) handed out 35 assists and added 10 digs and two block assists.

Colby's Paige Hanssen tallied a match-high 14 kills to go with three aces and seven digs. Julia Hutchings added nine kills, while Nicole Petherbridge and Elizabeth Middlebrook added seven and six kills, respectively. Molly Manuel passed out 31 assists for the Mules.

Hanssen almost singlehandedly staked the Mules to a 1-0 lead with a big performance in the first set, including six kills on 16 attack attempts. She tallied back-to-back kills to push Colby into a 24-20 lead. Bates edged back in with a kill by Lightbourn and consecutive aces served by Lauren Brough, prompting a Colby timeout. After another serve by Brough, Hanssen's cross-court spike glanced off Brough's arms for the set point.

The second set was controlled by Bates. The Bobcats extended an 11-6 lead with a kill by Lightbourn, followed by four Lightbourn serves in a row, with two aces and a kill by Echipue, making it 14-6. A pair of aces by Echipue later extended the lead to 19-7, and a kill by Schecter made it 24-11 in Bates' favor. Colby scored four straight, including two kills by Hanssen, to narrow the score to 24-15 before Lightbourn's kill evened the match at 1-1.

Bates moved out of a 7-7 tie in the third set as Echipue served five straight times. Bates led 18-14 before Colby scored four straight to even the score, as Hanssen racked up three straight aces of her own. But Hanssen's service error returned serve to Bates and gave the Bobcats a 19-18 lead. Panepinto then served out the rest of the set, for six straight points, using a kill by Schecter and two kills by Stafford-Smith along the way.

The fourth and final set was tightly contested. The Mules scored five straight on Hutchings' serves to turn a 6-2 deficit into a 7-6 lead, and Colby led by as much as 15-12. Hanssen's service error after a Bates timeout started a 4-0 Bates streak to take a 16-15 lead, which the Bobcats turned into a 13-3 run to finish out the set and match. Lightbourn recorded kills for three of Bates' final five points.