CASTLETON, Vt. – After playing three matches in a 24-hour span last weekend, the Castleton University volleyball team continues its opening stretch with road contests at SUNY Cobleskill and at Bay Path this week.
The Spartans, looking to break through in the win column, will travel to Cobleskill, N.Y., to face the Fighting Tigers for the second time in six days Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. Castleton will then head to the First Baptist Church Gym in East Longmeadow, Mass., on Saturday, Sept. 9, for contests against MCLA at 12 noon and Bay Path at 2 p.m.
Freshman Shannon Manchester got off to a solid start in her collegiate career, earning All-Tournament honors at the Blazer Invitational last weekend after collecting 15 kills and seven total blocks. Manchester is tied with senior Kimberly Jackson for the team lead in kills after three matches, plus she is second in the NAC in blocks per set (0.70).
Maria Jackson took over the starting setter duties and notched two double-doubles over the weekend, finishing the tournament with 35 assists and 38 defensive digs, team highs in both categories. Kimberly Jackson and Jess Grace are tied for second on the squad with 36 digs apiece, followed by freshman libero Meghan Zawatsky with 25 digs.
SUNY Cobleskill brings a 3-1 record into Wednesday's match after going 2-1 at the Blazer Invitational and then sweeping Green Mountain in its home opener Monday. Karyn Knaul leads the Fighting Tiger offense with 29 kills, while Mackenzie Holbert has 65 assists and 18 service aces, including 10 aces against Green Mountain.
SUNY Cobleskill improved its all-time record against Castleton to 16-4 with a 3-1 victory last Friday in Chicopee, Mass. Rachel Burke led the Fighting Tigers with 11 kills, while Kendra Webb finished with 21 assists, 12 digs, and eight service aces. Kimberly Jackson led the Spartans with seven kills and 14 digs, while Maria Jackson also collected 14 digs to go along with 13 assists and two service aces.
MCLA went 0-4 on a trip to Claremont, Calif., last weekend and will host Mount Holyoke Tuesday night before Saturday's contests. Brooke Queripel leads the Trailblazer offense with 16 kills, while Mele Enomoto paces the MCLA backline with 35 defensive digs.
MCLA holds a 10-1 series advantage over Castleton, winning the last 10 meetings over the Spartans after Castleton won the first one in five sets on Sept. 14, 2006. These teams last met on Sept. 12, 2015, with the Trailblazers sweeping the Spartans, 3-0 (25-14, 25-11, 25-16).
Bay Path started the season with victories over Massachusetts Maritime and Johnson State this past Saturday and will face St. Joseph (Conn.) Thursday before hosting Saturday's tri-match. Lauren Vallee averaged four kills per set and hit .513 in the opening two matches for the Wildcats, plus she earned nine service aces and seven digs.
Entering Saturday's match, Bay Path holds a slight 5-4 edge in the all-time series. The teams last met on Sept. 24, 2016, with the Wildcats picking up a 3-1 victory (25-13, 25-16, 25-27, 25-18) over the Spartans.
After this week's matches, the Castleton volleyball team will have a week off from competition before opening the home schedule on Homecoming weekend.