It was an exciting and competitive weekend for the Williams Men’s Club Volleyball team. Their season progressed with five matches against teams from UMass, Wesleyan, Amherst, UConn, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The team battled hard but finished 1-4 against some of the strongest competition New England has to offer.
An eager crowd turned out Thursday night in Chandler Gymnasium to see how Williams would fare against the sharp veteran team from UMass. A hard fought effort by Williams proved insufficient as the experience of UMass triumphed in a decisive 3-0 victory. The UMass attack was too much for a Williams club made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores, but it was clear that the formation of a talented nucleus was underway for the Ephs.
UMass, returning from their victory over Williams last season, opened with a quick start and never looked back, tallying final scores of 15-8, 15-6, and 15-6. During the match the Ephs displayed the abilities to hustle, communicate, and come up with big plays. Led by captains Josh Goldstein ‘00 and Nelson Hioe ‘00, Williams made UMass earn each point, and in the process displayed a competitive edge that will surely translate into victories down the road.
Midway through the second game, the Ephs made their best run at the UMass Minutemen and managed to lock the game at 6-5 in favor of Williams. Ultimately, UMass’s dominating serving ability took control and rallied the team to twelve consecutive points. Despite the athletic play of Goldstein and James Apgar ‘01, UMass won the second game and steamrolled to victory in the third.
“I think our biggest weakness at this point is our inexperience and our youth,” Hioe said. “The sooner we can strengthen our on-court chemistry, the sooner we are going to be a threat to other clubs.” Inexperience and a failure to capitalize on serve possessions plagued Williams on Thursday, but the rate at which they are improving is encouraging to players and fans alike.
The leadership and performance of Apgar and Taylor McKinley ‘00 prompted volleyball fan Celina Zlotoff ‘01 to say, “I love to come and watch guys volleyball. It is clear that their hard work is allowing them to start coming together as a team.” This could not have been more true as Williams headed into a weekend with two hard matches on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Saturday finished with losses to little three opponents Wesleyan (15-12, 12-15, 13-15) and Amherst (4-15, 7-15). Feisty efforts on behalf of Hioe and Paul Friedman ‘00, and a critical replacement of an ill Goldstein by Apgar at the middle hitter position highlighted Saturday’s play. However, terrific net play by both opponents was enough to thwart a Williams team that faced a three game losing streak heading into Sunday.
Errors in their passing and serving games led to a loss to UConn on Sunday morning (5-15, 6-15). This loss prepared Williams for what ended up being a dominating victory that evening against the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (15-10, 15-0).
A four game losing streak was snapped as the Ephmen wrapped up a busy weekend with grandiose style. They ran a clinic on the finer points of passing and blocking against the Coast Guard volleyballers. McKinley’s crucial substitution at middle hitter, complemented with Apgar’s ten service points in the final game made for a satisfying win for the Ephs.
The Volleyball Ephmen look to continue to improve on their 2-5 record with another exciting home match this Sunday against Trinity at Chandler Gymnasium.
It looks like minimizing mistakes and continued team communication on the court will be the keys as a vastly improved Williams club battles another NESCAC foe in another weekend of exciting volleyball action.