The energy in Alumni Gym on Friday night was palpable as Bates College women’s volleyball team took on Wesleyan University in their NESCAC home opener. After losing the first set (17-25), the Bobcats took an early lead in the second set and never looked back, finishing it 25-19, and setting the stage for two more victorious sets (25-14, 25-21) to complete the best-of-five set match. Leading scorers for the night included junior Chandler McGrath with 20 kills and first-year Claire Naughton, who tallied ten more. But the attackers would not have succeeded without the help of their defensive specialist, senior Laryssa Schepel, who noted 26 digs. Sophomore Jacqueline Forney and junior Hannah Tardie contributed to the win with 32 and 15 assists, respectively. Additional highlights come from the front row as sophomore Lisa Slivken and senior Mary Deneen added a combined 16 kills.

The momentum carried over to Saturday’s matchup against Trinity College, as the Bobcats secured a hard-fought 3-2 victory. In their first win against Trinity in seven years, it took several contributions from the team to ensure the win against the Bantams. More than once, the Bobcats worked hard to overcome a deficit, and they ended up victorious after an exhausting five sets. McGrath could not be stopped, as she led the team with 21 kills for the night. Her hitting triumphs became contagious throughout the afternoon, with Slivken adding ten kills and Naughton blasting nine hits past Trinity’s blockers as well as stuffing three of them herself. Much of the team’s success is owed to the combination of sophomore setter Jacqueline Forney who put up 26 assists and 9 digs, as well as junior setter Hannah Tardie, who had 17 assists and 17 digs. Tardie also contributed five kills, the last of which was a dump over the net to seal the deal. However, kills alone cannot win a team the game. The back row displayed a solid defensive effort, led by Schepel with 30 digs, and help from sophomore Augy Silver. The Bobcats overall statistics for the night included 90 digs to Trinity’s 69.

When asked about these early back-to-back NESCAC wins, senior Mary Deneen said, “It’s great to see our team heading in the right direction from the start.” The Bobcats are hopeful for a successful season, especially with first-year coach Melissa DeRan.

Deneen adds, “Our new coach has played a huge role in changing our team’s attitude and boosting our confidence. She believes that we can and will win, and that makes us work even harder.” The hard work has paid off thus far for the Bobcats, as their current record stands at 3-4 overall, and 2-0 in the NESCAC.

The team travels to Maine Maritime Wednesday night at 7 pm, and returns home for another NESCAC game, against Colby on Friday.