HAMILTON, N.Y. - Colgate (17-13) rallied from down a set twice and held off a late last-ditch charge from defending champion American to capture the 2012 Patriot League Volleyball Championship in five sets at Cotterell Court Sunday afternoon.
The Raiders won with set scores of 16-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21 and 20-18 to secure their fifth League crown and first since 1999. Colgate earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, and will learn their first-round destination and opponent Sunday, Nov. 25 during the Selection Show on ESPNU at 4 p.m.
After rallying to a 25-21 victory in set No. 4 to even the match, Colgate fell behind 4-0 in the fifth and deciding frame. But the Raiders rattled off eight of the next nine points to take an 8-5 lead at the changeover.
Colgate eventually moved ahead 14-10, but American (21-10) was not finished. Sara Rishell picked up a kill, followed by a Colgate attack error. Then Kylann Scheidt and Kristyna Lindovska combined for a pair of blocks, and suddently the fifth set was tied at 14-all.
Lindsay Young's kill put Colgate back in front 15-14, setting up another championship point for the Raiders. But American secured the next two, taking a 16-15 advantage and having a championship point of its own.
A Michelle McCarthy kill and an American attack error later, and the pendulum had swung back in Colgate's favor. The Raiders led 17-16.
The teams traded the next several points, and finally it was an American attack error that clinched the Raiders' 20-18 victory in set No. 5.
McCarthy logged 14 kills with just two errors to hit .414 in Sunday's victory. She was named Patriot League Tournament MVP, and is joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Kaylee Fifer and Diane Seely.
American's Kelly McCaddin and Juliana Crum were selected to the All-Tournament squad. Lehigh's Taylor Poole and Army's Ariana Mankus were also named to the team.
The Eagles jumped out to a 5-1 lead early in the first set, and Colgate was never able to get its rhythm going to start. The Raiders cut the deficit to 18-15, but American scored five straight points. After Colgate got one back on the board, the Eagles scored the next two, with Morgan Hendrix and Rishell teaming up for a block to finish off the first frame.
The Raiders regrouped in the second set, eventually building a commanding 18-9 lead. American scored four of the next five, forcing a Raiders timeout. The Eagles clawed within 22-18 on McCaddin's ace, but Colgate scored three of the next four to tie the match.
Set three went back and forth, with Colgate taking a 19-17 lead following a McCarthy kill after a Fifer dish. American called timeout to regroup, and whatever Eagle head coach Barry Goldberg said in the huddle worked, because the two-time defending champions went on a 4-0 run to take a 21-19 lead.
Colgate called time and scored the first point after the break, but American notched four of the next five to take the frame and move in front 2-1.
The Eagles opened up the fourth set on a 6-1 run, including five straight points with Scheidt serving on the last four. Colgate regrouped after calling timeout and stormed back within 10-9. Later on the fourth set's script was flipped from the third, as American led 19-17 before the Raiders rattled off four straight for a 21-19 advantage. After the two traded points, Colgate finished off the set with three consecutive points off kills from Young, Fifer and Liz Karnes.
Colgate won for the first time in six meetings with American in the Patriot League Tournament. The Eagles fall to 22-2 all-time in the League's four-team playoff.
Crum led the Eagles with 21 kills and hit .235 in the contest. She logged a double-double with 13 digs. Scheidt pitched in 58 assists, and Lindovska notched eight total blocks, including a pair solo.
Seely led the Raiders with 18 strikes with a .375 hitting percentage. Caitlin Cremin led five Raiders in double-digit digs with a match-high 20.