HENNIKER, N.H. – Castleton University lost to New England College, 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-14), in the quarterfinals of the 2017 North Atlantic Conference Tournament Saturday morning at Bridges Gym, ending the Spartans' 2017 campaign.
Castleton took an early lead in the opening set, thanks in part to consecutive service aces by Meghan Zawatsky. Down 10-6, New England College put together an 8-1 scoring run to pull ahead, 14-11. After a kill by Greta Hoehn closed the Spartan deficit to 17-16, the Pilgrims closed out the first set with another 8-1 run, led by Kaitlyn Walker with four kills and a block assist.
New England College (13-15) took an 8-5 lead in the second set thanks to three straight kills by Kayleigh MacDougall. The Pilgrims extended that advantage throughout the set before the Spartans chipped away, closing to within three at 23-20 on a service ace by Maria Jackson. However, kills by Walker and Dreka Griffin clinched the second set for New England College, giving the Pilgrims a 2-0 match lead.
The Pilgrims scored six unanswered points early in the third set, led by three kills by MacDougall, to open an 8-3 advantage. New England College continually increased the lead as the set went along, closing out the set and the match on a kill by Walker.
Maria Jackson led Castleton with five kills and seven assists, plus she collected 10 digs, while Hoehn led the Spartans with 13 digs and three service aces. Walker led the Pilgrims with 14 kills, followed closely by Griffin with 13 kills and MacDougall with 12 kills. NEC setter Kennedy Somavia notched a double-double with 38 assists and 11 digs, and Emma Kowalka paced the Pilgrim backline with 12 digs.
Castleton concludes the 2017 season with a 7-16 overall record, but the newcomers gained valuable experience throughout the year. Everyone on the active roster is eligible to return next year except for Kimberly Jackson, as she will graduate next spring and leave Castleton among the top eight players in career kills, career digs, and career service aces.