Cougars Fight Before Falling to Wheaton and Connecticut College

Cougars Fight Before Falling to Wheaton and Connecticut College

WORCESTER, Mass. – Clark University women's volleyball hosted a tri-match with Wheaton College and Connecticut College Saturday at the Kneller Center, pushing the opening match to five sets with New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) foe Wheaton before suffering a 3-0 setback to the Camels in the third and final match of the day.

The Basics:

Scores: Lyons 3, Cougars 2 | Camels 3, Cougars 0

Records: Clark University (4-12, 0-4 NEWMAC) | Wheaton College (11-6, 2-1 NEWMAC) | Connecticut College (6-6, 0-3 NESCAC)

How it Happened:

Wheaton College 3, Clark University 2

Freshman Claudia Rivera (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) slammed a career-high 22 kills as the Cougars manufactured an inspiring comeback while down 2-0 in set scores to the visiting NEWMAC opponent Lyons, but in the end the visiting team used a balanced attack as Julia Palomba and Casey Dinga finishing with a combined 33 kills to lead the way.

Clark University fell 25-15 in the opening set and then faced a straight-set loss in the match after Wheaton earned 25-16 victory in the second set. But the Cougars roared back in the match, starting in set three as neither team could find separation from the other.

While trailing 15-14 in the third set, the Cougars went on a streak of five straight points to turn the tide as a service ace from Caitlin Kim (Cohoes, N.Y.) and a kill by first-year Cameron Gill (Shrewsbury, Mass.) produced the final two points of the run to take a 18-15 lead. Facing a match loss, Clark University pushed itself to a set win down 25-24, rallying for three quick points with another kill by Gill finishing off the set.

Clark University rolled that momentum into the fourth set as the host opened up a 6-0 lead to get things started, with its largest lead coming in the form of a seven-point cushion (12-5). Wheaton was able to close the gap late in the set, but the Cougars grouped points together during the final push, taking advantage of three attack errors and an ace from Kacey Legare (Chicopee, Mass.) to force the match to a fifth set.

Rivera came out strong in that fifth set as the rookie pummeled three kills early on to give the Cougars a 5-2 lead. Wheaton took control briefly after, tallying six consecutive points to grab the lead in the set. The Lyons never looked back, clinching the match with a 15-10 set score.

Connecticut College 3, Clark University 0 (25-19 - 28-26 - 25-23)

In the second match of the day, Rivera and Gill continued their solid performances as the collegiate newcomers rifled 12 and 11 kills respectively. But Connecticut College benefitted from a well-balanced attack with Katie Howley and Katie Gunderman supporting the charge with 23 of the team's 46 kills.

The Camels, who also swept Wheaton in straight-set during the middle contest of the tri-match, were tested by the Cougars as the host fell by set scores of 25-19, 28-26 and 25-23.

With a 1-0 deficit in the match and an 8-4 gap in the second set, the Cougars strung together four consecutive points on the service of Marimo Oka (Fukuoka, Japan) to tighten the score. The two teams matched runs for the remainder of the set, with the Cougars taking the lead briefly as a pair of kills from Rivera sparked a three-point streak for a 19-17 advantage.

The Camels regrouped while down 24-23 as they would win five of the remaining seven points to take the 2-0 lead in the match. In the third frame, the Cougars tried to mount another comeback as they again came out strong to gain early momentum in the set.

It worked as Clark University remained within striking distance for much of the set, and even following a five-point streak by the Camels, the Cougars responded with one of their own to take a 20-19 lead. The team's exchanged runs of two to tie up the set at 23 apiece, but that's when Annie Wibbelsman took control for the Camels, with the freshman rifling three quick kills off assists from Grace McGee to seal the match for the visitors.

Up Next:

The Cougars are back in action Tuesday, October 1st when they travel to Emerson College for a non-conference matchup at 7:00 pm.