CASTLETON, Vt. – Led by its three seniors on Senior Night, Castleton University fought back from a 2-1 match deficit to force a deciding fifth set, but Norwich University won the important points down the stretch, as the Cadets defeated the Spartans, 3-2 (19-25, 25-22, 25-19, 22-25, 15-12), Wednesday night in a non-conference collegiate volleyball contest at Glenbrook Gym.
After losing the second and third sets, Castleton fell behind in the fourth set 11-8 after a kill by Courtney Nau, but the Spartans scored four straight points, led by J'Leen Diaz with a kill and a service ace. After the Cadets retook the lead 16-15 on a kill by Emily Oliver, Diaz earned consecutive kills to cap a 4-0 Castleton run. At the end of the set, Cassidy Tedeschi earned a kill and Olivia Perkins picked up a solo block to tie the match and extend it into a deciding fifth set.
Norwich (6-14) scored six unanswered points early in the fifth set, led by three service aces from Monika Schneider, before Castleton settled down and put together a 7-2 scoring run, led by Tedeschi with three kills and a service ace, to tie the set at 8-8. The Cadets scored the next two points, the two teams exchanged the following seven points, and then Norwich closed out the set and the match with a kill and a service ace by Marissa Perrotti.
Tedeschi led the Spartans with 20 kills, plus she was one of four Castleton players with two service aces apiece. Diaz notched a double-double with 17 kills and 16 digs, while Perkins contributed 10 kills and three total blocks. Alex Madsen finished with a career-high 46 assists, and the Spartan defense was led by Kimberly Jackson with 20 digs and Jess Grace with 19 digs.
Schneider led the Cadets with 12 kills and six service aces, while Michelle Zummo notched a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs. Oliver also earned a double-double with 25 assists and 10 digs, plus she collected seven kills and five service aces. Courtney Quinn led the Norwich defense at the net with four block assists, and Brianna Dawson paced the backline defense with 18 digs.
After Norwich scored three of the first four points to open the match, Castleton put together a 10-2 run, led by Tedeschi and Perkins with three kills and a block assist apiece. A service ace by Tedeschi brought about set point and, after Norwich scored three unanswered points, Perkins clinched the first set for Castleton with a kill.
The second set was a reversal of the first set, as Castleton won three of the first four points before Norwich went on a 10-1 scoring run, led by three service aces by Oliver. Later in the set, consecutive kills by Tedeschi allowed the Spartans to pull to within three, but kills by Oliver and Zummo helped Norwich clinch the second set and tie the match at 1-1.
Castleton took an 8-5 lead in the third set on a service ace by Maria Jackson before Norwich again rallied, going on a 6-1 scoring run to pull ahead, 11-9. A service ace by Kimberly Jackson tied the set at 14-14, but the Cadets responded with four straight points. Castleton would extend the set on kills by Madsen and Diaz, but a Spartan attack error gave Norwich the third set and the 2-1 match lead.
Castleton University (9-12) heads to Lyndon Center, Vt., for the NAC Volleyball Tournament quarterfinal, as the fifth-seeded Spartans face fourth seed Lyndon State Saturday, Oct. 29, starting at 2 p.m. at Stannard Gymnasium.