The Williams Volleyball team ended the 1998 Williams Invitational this Saturday the same way they began on Friday – by winning their match. Williams finished the Invitational undefeated to start off the season with a 5-0 record, duplicating last year’s sweep of the Invitational and living up to the high expectations of 14 players Coach Patricia Manning refers to as a “team on a mission.”
The closest matches were against Amherst College on Friday evening and Middlebury College on Saturday afternoon. Going into the final match of the round-robin undefeated, Williams faced a Middlebury team looking to win after barely falling to Amherst in a five-game match. Williams and Middlebury also went to five games, with Williams prevailing 13-15, 15-11, 15-2, 8-15, 15-8, led by senior Christine Whitcraft’s 29 assists and five aces from senior captain Kelley Powell. Earlier in the day, Williams had an easier time with their matches, beating the University of New England 15-9, 15-6, 14-16, 15-3 and Trinity College 15-11, 15-12, 8-15, 15-10. In the Trinity match, senior captain Amy Greifenstein’s 22 kills and Whitcraft’s 35 assists fueled the quick defeat.
The toughest match of the tournament came on Friday night when Williams faced Amherst in front of a cheering crowd. After dropping the first two games 6-15 and 13-15, the team displayed its mental toughness and determination by winning the next two games 15-11 and 15-8, and decisively defeating the tired Lady Jeffs in the final game 15-3. Sophmore Shekinah Cohn’s 24 digs helped the Ephs battle back against the Amherst women, and Greifenstein’s 18 kills and junior Katie Ford’s 15 kills aided the Ephs in overcoming the two game deficit. In their first match on Friday afternoon. The Ephs finished off Skidmore 15-12, 13-15, 15-2, 15-8, led by strong serving by Cohn in the third game and 15 kills by Greifenstein.
After losing Sharon Olsen and Tammy Brown to graduation, the Ephs come back this season with a solid core of seniors, including Powell, Whitcraft and Greifenstein. Coach Manning is also excited about this year’s talented freshmen who she expects to make immediate contributions and the other players who constitute the deepest Eph bench in Manning’s years here. Facing the strongest NESCAC in a while, the team’s chemistry and high goals will serve them well as they face a challenging schedule. The team heads to MIT next weekend for a tournament in Cambridge.