The Ithaca College volleyball team kicked off its Empire 8 Conference Championship title defense on Sept. 2–3 at the North Country Season Opener in Canton, New York. The Bombers split their four matches, bringing home two wins.
The Blue and Gold started the tournament Sept. 2 with games against SUNY Brockport and St. Lawrence University. The first match of the 2016 season also served as the debut for the new coach of the Ithaca College volleyball team, Johan Dulfer.
In the first set against SUNY Brockport, the Bombers lost 25–17 but ended and lost the second set 25–16. SUNY Brockport ended the game with a second consecutive 25–16 score. The Bombers met a tough matchup in SUNY Brockport; both Ithaca and SUNY Brockport won at least 30 games last year. Freshman setter Caitlyn Floyd made quite an impression in her debut, as she led the team in assists.
The Bombers bounced back in the second match of the night, when they challenged St. Lawrence, who was hosting the tournament. Dulfer’s Bombers took an early 6–2 lead in the first set and they went on to win 25–21. The second set was even more competitive than the first, but the Bombers won again by a score of 25–23. The Bombers decisively won the third set with a final score of 25–14.
The opening match of the second day was between Ithaca College and Juniata College. After losing the first two sets 16–25 and 14–25 respectively, the Bombers had to focus in order to force this game into the fourth and fifth sets. They ended up winning the third and fourth sets 25–20 and 25–21. In the fifth and final set, the Bombers lost to the Eagles by a score of 11–15.
Junior outside hitter Joelle Goldstein led the team with 12 kills, sophomore defensive specialist Tara Stilwell led with four aces and two digs, sophomore middle hitter Amanda Cerruti led with five blocks and junior setter Kayla Gromen led with 21 assists.
The Bombers faced Clarkson University in their last game of the Invitational, Dulfer’s former team before coming to Ithaca College. In a close game, the Bombers defeated the Golden Knights in three sets by the scores of 25–23, 25–22 and 25–20.
Goldstein led the team with 10 kills and two aces, sophomore middle hitter Katie Evans led with five blocks, Floyd led with 15 assists and Stilwell led with 23 digs.
The Bombers’ next game will be their home opener at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in Ben Light Gymnasium against SUNY Oswego.