Southern Vermont Resilient in 3-2 Home Win over SUNY Cobleskill

Southern Vermont Resilient in 3-2 Home Win over SUNY Cobleskill

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College women's volleyball team never gave up on itself Thursday night—coming back from being one point away from defeat to pull out a 3-2 triumph at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.

After the Fighting Tigers won the opening set by a 25-22 margin, SVC responded to take the next two 25-13 and 25-16. The visitors extended the match to the decisive fifth with another 25-22 victory in the fourth, but the Mountaineers were able to stay alive after being down 14-12 in the final frame to win it 16-14.

Southern Vermont (6-17) is off until Tuesday when the squad heads to Lesley University for an 8 p.m. New England Collegiate Conference matchup. Cobleskill (8-12) is back at home on Saturday for its next contest—a 12 p.m. North Eastern Athletic Conference tilt against Wells College.

SVC junior captain Liv Sowles (Sacramento, Calif.) led all players with 22 kills while adding eight digs, six service aces, and three block assists to her line. Freshman Nikki Ramirez (West Covina, Calif.) had 15 kills, 10 digs, and seven aces, and sophomore Abigail Landon (South Glens Falls, N.Y.) tied the match-high of 17 digs in addition to assisting on 36 of the Mountaineers' 41 kills. Junior libero Heidy Benitez (Tulare, Calif.) also had 17 digs in the win.

Leading the offense for the Fighting Tigers was freshman Karyn Knaul (Central Square, N.Y.) who had a team-high 14 kills; she also registered six digs and three aces on the night. Freshman libero Kendra Webb (Munnsville, N.Y.) tied the match-best of 17 digs while junior Mackenzie Holbert (Sauquoit, N.Y.) had 37 assists, 15 digs, and a pair of kills. Sophomore Emily Potter (Fort Plain, N.Y.) chalked up 14 digs and nine kills as junior Gabrielle Danthine (Schoharie, N.Y.) tallied 15 digs and four kills in the effort.

The victory was Southern Vermont's second 3-2 win over Cobleskill this year and helped the team surpass its victory mark from a year ago.

Three-straight points from the Mountaineers early in the first put them ahead 7-5, but the Fighting Tigers came back with five unanswered to reclaim the lead. Southern Vermont would pull to within one with a kill by Bennington College freshman Kemly Derby (New York, N.Y.) and a Ramirez ace—only to see Cobleskill respond with a 6-1 run which included a pair of kills from freshman Rachel Burke (West Winfield, N.Y.). The teams traded spurts in the late going as two-straight Ramirez kills made it a 23-22 edge for the visitors, but the Fighting Tigers would come out of their stoppage and register kills for the last two points of the set.

Cobleskill mishaps allowed Southern Vermont to jump out to a 6-1 lead in the second, and the Mountaineers never relinquished the upper hand the rest of the way. Sowles landed a kill before notching an ace as part of a 4-1 run, and Ramirez then tallied two kills as her team won four in-a-row to go in front 15-7. The Fighting Tigers maintained the separation by taking three of four—only to see Sowles land two aces and a kill as SVC scored five unanswered points to end the game and tie the contest.

Three-straight Cobleskill kills put the visitors ahead 4-0 and forced an early Mountaineer timeout in the onset of the third. The stoppage did the Mountaineers a lot of good as they won eight of the next nine once play resumed; Ramirez followed one of her kills with three consecutive aces to start that surge before Derby tacked up another pair of aces in the backend. The Fighting Tigers lived up to their name and came back to go on top at 12-11, however, with two kills and two aces. After Knaul landed a kill to tie it at 14-all, Southern Vermont stormed to a 10-1 run for the comfortable cushion; Ramirez had three aces in that stretch while Sowles put down a pair of kills. Cobleskill would get service back with the score at 25-16, but an errant restart put SVC in front on the night with a 2-1 match lead.

The fourth set was a back-and-forth battle from the start as two Ramirez kills helped Southern Vermont tie it at 7-7. The Fighting Tigers started to pull away at the midpoint of the set—winning seven of nine with the help of five SVC miscues. Down 22-15, the Mountaineers dug in and went on a 7-1 run as Sowles notched back-to-back kills before sophomore Sarah Billow (South Glens Falls, N.Y.) recorded three-straight aces. The next two would go to the visitors, however, as another pair of SVC mishaps sent the match to the final stanza.

A Potter kill was followed by two in-a-row from Knaul to give Cobleskill the early edge in the fifth, but they would allow SVC to tie it up, and then go in front by one, as five of the Mountaineers' first six points came via Fighting Tiger errors. The visitor mishaps continued for Southern Vermont to take an 11-8 lead, but Cobleskill then rallied for a 5-1 run to make it match-point behind kills from Potter and Burke. Down 14-12, SVC was able to tie it up before a Billow ace put the Mountaineers on the brink of victory and forced a Fighting Tiger timeout. It would do no good for the visitors as Southern Vermont came out of the break and saw Landon set Sowles on the left side for the final point of the night.