NEW LONDON, Conn.-The Coast Guard women's volleyball team knocked off upset-minded Vassar 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Merriman Gymnasium. With the win, the Bears improve to 21-6 on the season while the loss drops Vassar to 18-14. The win came with match scores of 17-25, 29-27, 25-11, 15-25, and 16-14.
Despite falling in the first set, Coast Guard responded big by winning three of the next four in the second five-set extravaganza in as many days for the Bears.
Two of the last three points won by Coast Guard came on two-handed tips in the fifth set gave Coast Guard a thrilling victory 16-14 fifth set – and match – victory. The Bears did a great job not giving Vassar much in the tie-break set as the Brewers did not record consecutive points until the 18th service point of the match. The big play with Vassar leading 12-11 as senior Kelsey DePorto came up with a block to even the match at 12-12.
Facing match-point sophomore Ashley Dumont came back with a tip following a Vassar over to tie the game up at 14. Freshman Rebekah Muller, facing a similar situation with the Bears leading 15-14, delivered another perfectly placed tip to give the Bears an exhilarating five-set victory.
Coast Guard dropped the first set 25-17 despite jumping ahead 2-0 very early on. Trailing by as much as 13 at 22-9, the Bears were able to make things interesting with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to just 22-16 but it would prove to be not quite enough.
The second set was a much more closely contested affair with both clubs exchanging blows early on before Coast Guard eventually pulled out a 29-27 victory to even the match at one set to one. With Coast Guard leading 28-27 in the second set, DePorto loaded up for an emphatic kill shot before dropping a perfectly placed tip in between four Vassar players who could do nothing but watch.
The emotional second set victory seemed to give the Bears some energy as they raced out to an 8-3 lead in set number three. After a 3-0 run by the Brewers, Coast Guard came back to close the match with a 17-5 run on their way to a 25-11 third set victory, interrupted only briefly by a Vassar timeout with the score 16-9.
The fourth set saw the Bears come out with guns ablaze, putting up the first three points. Trailing 5-2, Vassar would come storming back with an 8-1 run to take a 10-6 lead. Despite a seemingly well-placed timeout by Coast Guard, Vassar would continue to thrive in the set and the Brewers would post a 25-15 victory to knot the match a two sets to two.
Muller was phenomenal for leading the Bears with a double-double (21 kills, 17 digs). DePorto added 20 digs, attacking at .250 and six blocks while senior Samantha Marmolejo led the team with 25 digs. Sophomore Maggie Hine led the club with 49 assists and added 17 digs as well. Dumont and freshman Susan West were also in double-figures with 10 and 12 digs, respectively.
Head coach Aylene Ilkson said, "Rebekah Muller carried us throughout the course of the match today. I thought our middles really played well, combining for 30 kills which we, as a coaching staff, are very happy with." She was also pleased with the team's defensive effort, saying, "As a team, defensively, we worked well together and I think the stats show that. We had 80 digs and seven blocks and we'll take that every time out."
With the victory Coast Guard is now 2-0 all-time against Vassar since records are available (c. 1988) with the other win, a 2-0 decision, coming at the 1995 MIT Invitational.
Coast Guard returns to action on Tuesday, October 29th when they travel to Wellesley for a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference match-up at 7:00 pm. The Bears will wrap up the regular season home portion of their match on Saturday, November 2nd when they host defending NEWMAC tournament champion MIT.