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Wesleyan Rallies From Early Deficit to Defeat Bates, 3-1

Photo Courtesy of Jonas Powell '18
Photo Courtesy of Jonas Powell '18

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Maddie Kurke '22 totaled a career-high 19 kills on Saturday afternoon to help lead the Wesleyan University volleyball team to a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Bates College. The Cardinals dropped the first set, 25-21, but rallied with wins of 25-6, 25-21 and 25-22 en route to a thrilling NESCAC win in their final home match of the regular season.

With the victory, Wesleyan remains atop the conference standings alongside Bowdoin with a perfect 8-0 record. The Cardinals are also 13-2 overall. With the loss, the Bobcats drop to 9-6 and 3-5.


  • The first set featured back-and-forth play throughout. Tied at 14-14, Bates went on a 4-0 run to take a lead and never looked back. The Cardinals cut the deficit to two, 20-18, but it wasn't enough as the Bobcats scored five of the final eight points.
  • The second frame featured a dominating performance by Wesleyan. The home team jumped out to a 5-0 lead and later scored 11 straight points to go ahead, 21-4. Kurke recorded the final kill to even the match at 1-1. The Cardinals recorded 16 kills on 31 attempts without registering an error, which is good for a .516 hitting percentage.
  • Bates remained composed, however, and the third set featured more back-and-forth action. Wesleyan led for most of the frame early on until an attack error by the home team knotted the score up at 11-11. Shortly after, four consecutive kills by Kurke gave the Cardinals a 20-17 lead. After a 3-0 run by the visitors, Wesleyan responded by scoring five of the final six points en route to the win.
  • The fourth set featured more thrilling action with Bates leading early on. Another kill by Kurke gave the Cardinals its first lead at 11-10. It was short-lived, however, as the set saw nine ties down the stretch. Tied at 20-20, it was the freshman once again that helped pull Wesleyan ahead as Kurke tallied three-straight kills followed by a powerful attack by Stasie Litinsky '20 to put the home team up by four, 24-20. Bates scored twice to cut the deficit to two, but setter Kaira Muraoka-Robertson '20 put the match away with a kill for the final point.


  • Kurke, who hit .359, was joined in double-figures by Litinsky with 10 kills. Nicole Hilton '20 finished with eight and Harper Graves '21 totaled seven with an attack clip of .467.
  • Muraoka-Robertson tied a season-high with 43 assists and added 11 digs. Phia Bellizzi '21 recorded a season-high 34 digs and Jenna Otaola '22 added 16. Senior Emma Robin was a force at the net as she finished with seven block assists and the Cardinals totaled 24 as a team.
  • Bates was led by Ruby Lightbourn and Taylor Stafford-Smith with 13 and 10 kills, respectively. Stafford-Smith also totaled a team-high 20 digs, while Julia Panepinto recorded 37 assists and 15 digs. Four Bobcats recorded double-digit digs as Gabi Eustache had 16 and Megan Seabury recorded 14.


  • Wesleyan heads to Susquehanna next weekend for non-conference action. The Cardinals play Franklin & Marshall on Friday, Oct. 19 (5 p.m.) before a doubleheader on Saturday against Susquehanna (1 p.m.) and Swarthmore (3 p.m.).