EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. – After losing to host school Bay Path, 3-1 (25-13, 25-16, 25-27, 25-18), the Castleton University volleyball team swept Johnson State, 3-0 (25-16, 25-7, 25-10), to earn a split of its matches Saturday at First Baptist Gym.
Against the Badgers, the Spartans scored the first five points of the opening set, led by three service aces from Alex Madsen. Johnson State scored the next four points to pull to within one, but Castleton would extend its lead to 13-7 thanks to a 6-1 scoring run, started by consecutive kills from Olivia Perkins. Castleton would put together another 6-1 scoring run to close out the first set, featuring two service aces by Cassidy Tedeschi and one ace by Perkins.
The teams split the first six points of the second set before Castleton took control, starting with back-to-back service aces by Kimberly Jackson. The Spartans would score 18 of the final 20 points of the second set, led by their service game, as each Castleton server picked up at least one ace during her turn behind the line.
Thanks to two kills and four service aces by J'Leen Diaz, Castleton scored seven of the first eight points of the third set, and then Jackson picked up four aces of her own as the Spartans rattled off 12 unanswered points midway through the set. Castleton closed out the third set and the match by forcing Johnson State into consecutive attack errors.
Castleton totaled 24 service aces in the match, led by six aces apiece by Diaz and Jackson. Perkins led the offense with six kills and a .357 hitting percentage, while Jackson and Lauren Wilson paced the defensive effort with six digs apiece.
Bay Path opened the first match of the day by scoring three of the first four points, and then extended its lead to 19-9. Back-to-back kills by Paige Marshall gave Bay Path a 23-11 advantage, and then another kill by Marshall clinched the opening set for the Wildcats.
Two more kills by Marshall gave Bay Path a 5-1 lead in the second set, and then, after the Spartans closed their deficit to one, Bay Path went on a 9-3 scoring run to extend its lead to 16-9. A kill by Diaz brought the Spartans to within two later in the set, but the Wildcats pulled away to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, consecutive service aces by Jackson gave Castleton an 8-4 lead, but Bay Path responded with four straight points to tie the set. After Jennifer Pham earned consecutive service aces to give Bay Path a 21-16 lead, Castleton scored five unanswered points to pull into another tie at 21-21. With Bay Path at match point, back-to-back kills by Diaz extended the set, and then a service ace by Madsen and a kill from Tedeschi gave Castleton the third set to keep the match going.
Bay Path started the fourth set with three straight service aces by Ashlee Connors, and then the Wildcats scored six straight points later in the set to open an 11-5 advantage. Back-to-back kills by Perkins helped Castleton close its deficit to two at 11-9, but that would be as close as the Spartans would get, as Bay Path used a 6-1 scoring run to create breathing room. The Wildcats clinched the set and the match with a kill by Lauren Vallee.
Tedeschi led the Spartans with nine kills, plus she earned three service aces and eight digs, while Diaz finished with six kills, two aces, and seven digs. Jackson led Castleton with five service aces in the match, and Wilson was the only player for either team to reach double figures in digs with 10.
Castleton (4-5) heads to Southern Vermont College Wednesday, Sept. 28, to face the Mountaineers starting at 7 p.m.