Women’s Volleyball Clipped 3-2 by Smith

taryn higareda sets the ball

BENNINGTON, Vt. – In a well-contested non-conference women's volleyball match at the Mountaineer Athletic Center Friday night, Southern Vermont College fell 3-2 to the visiting Smith College Pioneers.

SC took the opening set by a 25-13 margin before the Mountaineers came back to tie the contest with a 27-25 victory in the second. Smith ran away with the third and won it 25-12—only to see Southern Vermont again respond and grab the fourth by a 25-21 margin. SVC made a late push to overcome a sizable deficit in the deciding frame, but the Pioneers held off the hosts to claim a 15-12 set victory and win the night.

Southern Vermont (14-3) has a quick turnaround for its next match as the Mountaineers are back at home on Saturday for a 4 p.m. New England Collegiate Conference showdown with Newbury College. Smith (3-14) is off until Tuesday when the Pioneers visit Emerson College for a 7 p.m. New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference tilt.

SVC sophomore Nikki Ramirez (West Covina, Calif.) recorded a team-best 18 kills in addition to notching 14 digs, and freshman Vianey Hernandez (Jewett, Texas) tallied 23 digs, 12 kills, and three service aces for the Mountaineers. Senior libero Heidy Benitez (Tulare, Calif.) registered a match-high 32 digs as junior setter Taryn Higareda (Rosemead, Calif.) assisted on 37 of the 46 Southern Vermont kills.

Smith sophomore Amy Hagen (Owings, Md.) led all players with 20 kills on the night, and she added 22 digs to her line. Classmate Caleigh Johnson (Georgetown, Texas) was right behind at 19 kills while junior Helena Wiatrowski (Winchester, Mass.) led the Pioneers with 27 digs. Junior Kimani Freeman (Newark, N.J.) had 39 assists in the win.

SC jumped out to an 8-3 lead off the opening serve, but the Mountaineers stuck with it and climbed back to go on top by one as Ramirez and junior Meg Maddalena (Portola, Calif.) started to heat up. Smith would seize the momentum, however, and close out the set on a 15-3 run with Hagen landing three-straight kills during a stretch of seven unanswered points at the end.

Hernandez started the second frame behind the line and tossed up six-straight serves for SVC to grab an early edge, but the Pioneers would chip away and eventually go in front by three as Hagen put down four kills during an 8-1 run. Down 21-17, the Mountaineers fought back to tie it at 23-23, and points were traded until back-to-back SC errors allowed Southern Vermont to take the game.

Johnson had three kills to help Smith build a 13-5 advantage in the third set, and the visitors were able to maintain that separation through the remainder of the stanza. Freeman tallied consecutive aces in a late 9-2 run which put SC back in front for the match.

SVC had its most efficient game of the night in the fourth with only two attacking errors on 40 swings as Higareda assisted on 12 of the Mountaineers' 13 kills. A back-and-forth struggle saw neither side lead by more than three before Southern Vermont ended the set and kept the night going with a 4-1 spurt behind a pair of Maddalena kills.

Johnson had three kills in the front end of the fifth as Smith went ahead 10-2. The Mountaineers came back with a 5-2 run with kills by Ramirez, Hernandez, and junior Abby Landon (South Glens Falls, N.Y.). SVC then rattled off three straight to force a Smith timeout with kills from Hernandez and Higareda, but Freeman landed one of her own out of the stoppage to make it match point. A Smith serving error and an ace off Hernandez's hand kept the Mountaineers' hopes alive—however Johnson then put down one final kill to end the evening.