CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Castleton University volleyball team opened the 2017 season with losses to Albertus Magnus, 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-21), and to SUNY Cobleskill, 3-1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-21, 25-12), Friday night as part of the Blazer Invitational, hosted by Elms College at Picknelly Arena.
Kimberly Jackson led the Spartans in the match against Albertus Magnus with six kills, plus she collected 10 digs, while Asia Padua earned four kills and 10 digs in her first career collegiate match and Jess Grace added three kills, two service aces, and 14 digs. Setter Maria Jackson notched a double-double with 15 digs and 14 assists.
Castleton scored six unanswered points early in the first set to take an 8-6 lead, but Albertus Magnus (1-1) went on a 6-1 scoring run to pull ahead, 12-9. Down by nine late in the set, the Spartans scored four straight points to close to within five at 23-18, but kills by Jesselle Guzman and Genesis Cora Luquis clinched the opening set for the Falcons.
A kill by Shannon Manchester gave Castleton an 8-6 lead in the second set, but the Falcons rattled off five straight points to pull ahead. In front by just one point midway through the second set, Albertus Magnus scored five straight points to extend its lead, and then closed out the set with four straight points, led by two kills from Delaney Ruiz.
After Castleton took a 9-5 lead in the third set, the Falcons went on an 8-1 scoring run to take a 13-10 advantage. The Spartans again rallied, taking an 18-17 lead on a service ace by Meghan Zawatsky, but the Falcons clinched the set and the match with an 8-3 scoring run, capped by a kill from Luquis.
Against SUNY Cobleskill, Kimberly Jackson once again led the Spartans offensively with seven kills to go along with 14 digs. Maria Jackson also earned 14 digs plus 13 assists for another double-double, and Manchester added five kills and four total blocks.
SUNY Cobleskill (1-0) jumped out to an early 10-3 lead in the opening set, but Castleton went on a 9-2 run midway through the set to close to within two at 17-15. The Fighting Tigers clinched the first set thanks to a kill by Karyn Knaul and a service ace by Jazmina Syed.
The Spartans won the first six points of the second set and would eventually win the set on a kill by Kimberly Jackson and a block by Manchester. In a close third set, SUNY Cobleskill would take the lead for good on a service ace by Emily Potter, winning the set on a kill by Knaul. The fourth set was close early, but the Fighting Tigers went on a 13-2 scoring run to close out the set and the match.
Castleton (0-2) faces Elms College as the Blazer Invitational wraps up Saturday, Sept. 2, at 2 p.m.