NEW LONDON, Conn. – Seniors Sam Hunter (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and Katia Elisman (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) each recorded a double-double in their final game as collegians, but it wasn't enough, as the Connecticut College volleyball team fell to Bowdoin by a 3-2 decision on Saturday afternoon at the Charles B. Luce Field House. Set scores were 13-25, 23-25, 25-20, 27-25 and 13-15.
After dropping the first two sets, including the second by just two points, the Camels came out with a vengeance in the third and stormed back to create a nip-and-tuck marathon between the two schools. Elisman, who was one of four seniors recognized prior to the match, set up freshman Emma Hewlin (San Jose, Calif.) twice and classmate Belinda Mullally (Garden Grove, Calif.) to help break a 14-14 tie and give the hosts an 18-14 advantage. Michelle Albright responded with a kill on the other end, but that was as close as the Polar Bears would come the rest of the way. Junior Jenny Kellogg (Los Altos, Calif.) smashed a feed from Elisman to give the hosts a five-set victory.
Connecticut College's momentum carried over into the beginning of the fourth set, as the Camels rattled off four straight to take a 6-4 advantage on a Polar Bear attacking error. The teams then battled back-and-forth by exchanging the lead four times during the rest of the frame, but the hosts would eventually prevail. Despite facing set and match point at 24-22, Connecticut College tied the score by benefiting from a pair of Bowdoin service and attacking errors. Bowdoin put themselves in position to win the match again on a Khelsea Gordon kill which created a 25-24 margin, but the Camels responded with three straight points and most notably two kills from Hewlin down the stretch to force a fifth and deciding set.
The fifth set was another thriller which would be the third frame decided by the minimum two points between the squads. Juniors Maddie Rust (Austin, Texas) and Kellogg teamed up for a block to give the Camels a 4-1 cushion to work with, but the Polar Bears answered by embarking on a 7-3 run and took an 8-7 advantage when the teams switched sides on another Gordon kill. Even though the Camels moved back ahead again by a 10-8 score on an ace by sophomore Grace McGee (Portland, Ore.), Bowdoin was able to rally from behind again and went ahead for good on an ace by Megan Birnbaum. A service error by the Camels on set point allowed the Polar Bears to escape with the win and clinch the third seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Bowdoin (14-9, NESCAC 8-2) was paced by setter Kate Kiser, who racked up a game-high 54 assists and 13 digs. Caroline Flaharty recorded a double-double with 16 kills and 15 digs, and Lisa Sheldon led all players with 37 digs.
Connecticut College (13-10, NESCAC 2-8) was led by its senior class which was recognized prior to the match. Elisman, who quarterbacked the offense, finished the afternoon with 50 assists, 20 digs, seven kills, two blocks and a service ace. Hunter notched a double-double by registering 14 kills and 22 digs, while Branigan led the team with 30 digs and also contributed five assists. Mullally added eight kills and five digs, and Kellogg finished with a double-double by accumulating 10 kills and 16 digs to go along with five blocks.
The Camels graduate four seniors and are slated to return nine letterwinners next season.