Volleyball Serves Up Inconsistency to Start Season


Michael Thompson, Staff Writer

Coming off of a shaky 2015 campaign, NYU women’s volleyball entered Labor Day weekend with a set of new faces and high hopes. However, the Violets were again hampered by inconsistency at the NYU Labor Day Invitational this past weekend at the Hunter Sportsplex. But after dropping their first two matches against Skidmore College and Rivier College, the Violets bounced back with two clean sweeps of Plattsburgh State and Ramapo College to even out their record.

The Violets started the festivities off with a mid-afternoon 3-1 loss to Skidmore on Friday in a match that was up for grabs at several different points. Though they dropped the first two sets, the Violets fought back with a dominant 25-14 third set but were ousted 25-18 in the fourth. NYU was outperformed in most major categories, including kills, aces and digs. Junior and sophomore middle blockers Rayne Ellis and Gretchen Cash notched 10 kills apiece, while sophomore setter Daryl Mitchell anchored the Violets with 22 assists. Even junior libero Grace Napolitano’s team-high 24 digs weren’t enough to fend off defeat.

Luck was not on the Violets’ side later that day either, as the team suffered a 3-0 loss to Rivier, in which two sets were decided by three points or fewer. The Violets dropped the first 26-24 after leading 16-10 midway through the set. A 9-0 run by Rivier was enough to hold off the Violets, who fought back within one point before dropping the first frame.

The second set went back-and-forth. Down 22-18, the Violets went on a 5-0 streak to take a 23-22 lead, but Rivier stayed composed, and eventually put two crucial points together to take the set 27-25. Perhaps demoralized, the Violets went quietly in the third, losing by nine points. First and second-year outside hitters Caroline Rapp and Shelby King each finished with eight kills, and Mitchell again led the team with 33 assists.

After a night of rest and refocusing, the tide turned on Saturday as the Violets won two matches in six sets — two stellar sweeps to get them back on the right track with an entire season ahead of them.

After the misfortune of their game against Rivier, the Violets’ luck changed, as they took the first two sets against Plattsburgh State by two points apiece. Down 23-22, the Violets scored the last three points of the first to steal the set. The theme repeated itself in the second, as NYU clawed its way back from a deficit as large as eight points to steal the set. With two in their pocket, the ladies put together a dominant 25-13 third set to win their first match of the year. Rapp led in kills with nine, while sophomore setter Katie Goyette led in assists for the first time this season with 16.

“The first day was a bit shaky,” Ellis said. “After losing our first two games our coaches turned to us and essentially said the future was in our hands. And I think at that point a lot of us checked back into what our responsibilities were. In our huddle before the first game on day two, Coach Ward had nothing to say other than ‘you already know what to do.’ We won both games, so I guess we did.”

The Violets remained hot against Ramapo, and even showed the signs of a clutch gene, clinching the first and third sets en route to a 25-22, 25-19, 26-24 win. The Violets led in nearly every major category. Cash was back atop the stat sheet with nine kills, while Goyette led again with 25 assists.

With the potential for a strong season ahead, the Violets are back in action on Friday against the Sage Colleges in New Paltz, NY.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 6 print edition. Email Michael Thompson at [email protected].