BENNINGTON, Vt. – A strong performance from behind the service line led to the visiting Bay Path University Wildcats sweeping Southern Vermont 3-0 Tuesday night in New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) women's volleyball action at the Mountaineer Athletic Center.
Bay Path pulled away to win the opening set 25-16 before taking the second frame by a 25-10 margin. The Wildcats then edged SVC 25-20 in the third to close out the night.
Bay Path has now claimed the last two meetings between the sides to bring Southern Vermont's all-time series lead down to an 8-4 margin.
The Mountaineers (3-13, 0-2 NECC) continue their four-match home stand on Thursday, welcoming SUNY Cobleskill to the MAC for a 7 p.m. first serve. Bay Path (6-7, 1-1 NECC) next hits the road on Saturday, visiting Mitchell College for an 11 a.m. NECC matchup.
The Wildcats racked up 21 service aces on the night to Southern Vermont's three while registering a 27-23 advantage in kills.
SVC was led offensively by freshman Tay Phillips (Stephentown, N.Y.) who recorded a match-best 11 kills while adding four digs to her line. Senior captain Brin Goldman (St. Croix, Virgin Islands) had a team-high 13 digs to go with her 15 assists and three kills, and Bennington College freshman Gaby Oropeza (Riverside, Calif.) provided another 10 digs and two assists in the effort. Sophomore Lizzy Bench (St. Petersburg, Fla.) had eight digs and two kills for Southern Vermont while freshman Sarah Billow (South Glens Falls, N.Y.) notched six kills and three digs on the night.
Bay Path junior Ashlee Connors (Springfield, Mass.) was unstoppable from behind the line, firing across 12 of the Wildcats' aces while adding a team-best 11 digs and seven kills offensively. Classmate Lauren Vallee (Bristol, Conn.) registered eight kills, nine digs and three assists, and sophomore Lexi Cears(Agawam, Mass.) tallied 10 digs and a pair of kills while facilitating the offense with 18 assists.
The visitors went up 7-2 early on in the evening, but Bench then went back and served for six-straight points to put her team on top by one; Phillips had three kills in that 6-0 SVC spurt. Bay Path climbed back in front with help from a Connors kill, and points were then traded for the Wildcats to take a 14-12 upper hand. That's when they grabbed a comfortable cushion, however, scoring six unanswered points with three coming off kills late in the frame.
After Southern Vermont took the next two, another Connors kill followed two consecutive aces by BPU senior Paige Marshall (New Britain, Conn.). Phillips would get in another kill before a Mountaineer miscue put the game away for the Wildcats.
Neither side could sustain any momentum in the onset of the second set, points going back-and-forth as the teams traded kills. Connors had four kills while Phillips and Billow each had a pair on the other side as Southern Vermont trailed just 7-6. Another two Connor kills helped Bay Path take four of the next five to go in front 12-7, only to see the Mountaineers get back in it with three consecutive points on Wildcat mishaps.
The visitors then used a timeout, a stoppage that paid major dividends as SVC would not score again after the break. BPU sandwiched a Southern Vermont timeout with 13-straight points, senior Jennifer Pham (Springfield, Mass.) notching two kills to start that surge. Connors ripped across five-straight aces later in the stanza to put it out of reach for the hosts.
Points came in bunches in the start of the third set, SVC taking three straight with a Phillips kill before seven unanswered from the Wildcats put them up 8-3; Connors continued her hot hand from behind the line during that stretch as she added another five aces to frustrate the Mountaineer serve receive. SVC inched back into it with four consecutive of its own, but Bay Path had an answer as the Wildcats took the next six points with the help of three aces by sophomore Taylor Heinbokel (Agawam, Mass.).
A Billow kill made it a 16-10 BPU upper hand, and two-straight Mountaineer kills then got them within six. Goldman's third kill of the set trimmed it down to five, but that would be the closest that SVC would get the rest of the way. A Connors ace made it a 22-16 visitors' lead before Phillips kept Southern Vermont in it with back-to-back kills. Points were traded in pairs once again, leading to a final Southern Vermont service error that sealed the victory for the Wildcats.
Story credit to Southern Vermont College Sports Information Department