NORTHFIELD, Minn.— After battling back from a two-set deficit, the Carleton College volleyball team was unable to complete their comeback bid as they fell in five sets against St. Catherine University Wednesday evening. Rachel Johnson (Sr./Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) pounded out a career-high 14 kills and hit .520 for the evening to lead the Carleton offensive attack, while Caroline Duke (Fy./Evanston, Ill./Evanston) added 17 assists, 10 digs and nine kills.
Carleton (9-10, 0-7 MIAC) seemed poised to take the early advantage in the match, jumping out to a quick 15-9 lead on the heals of a Duke kill. The Knights extended their lead to 21-14 before the Wildcats (6-13, 0-6 MIAC) stormed back into the set with a 6-0 scoring run of their own to pull within a point at 21-20. The two teams traded points before St. Kate’s closed out the set with a hard fought 26-24 win.
The Knights fell behind early in the second set before rallying to tie the score at 14-14 midway through the set behind two kills from Karen Halls (Jr./Edina, Minn./Edina). That was as close as Carleton would get, as the Wildcats closed out the set on a 11-5 run to win the set 25-19.
Carleton would not go quietly however, as the Knights led wire to wire in the third set. Johnson asserted herself with four kills in the third set, while Duke added two kills and an ace as the Knights earned a 25-22 set win.
Riding the momentum from their strong play in the third set, the Knights breezed through set four en route to a 25-14 win to force a fifth and deciding game. Halls, Chloe Nelson (Sr./Madison, Wis./ West) and Ashley Shin (So./Stanford, Calif./Palo Alto) all recorded aces for the Knights in the set, while Johnson added four kills.
Carleton was unable to complete the comeback attempt however, as St. Kate’s jumped to an early lead in the fifth set and never looked back en route to a 15-7 win and match victory.
“We stumbled in the first two sets to find our offensive rhythm but it was great to see us turn it around in the next two sets,” stated Carleton head coach Heidi Jaynes. “We needed to win a set to at least get our confidence back and it was great to see our offense really click. However, we struggled to get things started in the fifth and we had too many errors to fight back from being down.”
Camille Benson (So./Savage, Minn./Burnsville) paced the Knights defense with a match-best 27 digs, while teammate Alicia Flatt (Jr./Walnut Creek, Calif./Carondelet) added a team-high 24 assists. As a team, Carleton had nine blocks, led by five from Johnson and four each from Halls and Duke.
Jana Christensen led the Wildcat offensive attack with 23 kills and six digs.
Carleton will return to action this Saturday, as they are set to host a triangular with matches against The University of Wisconsin- Superior and Buena Vista University at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively. Knights Online will carry a live audio and video feed of each match.