The women’s volleyball team returned to Maine this weekend to face Colby, Bowdoin, and Bates in a NESCAC quad. Although the ride home was an eventful one, marked by a broken down bus and Maine State troopers delivering pizza, it could not match the excitement of going 3-0 and retaining the top ranking in the NESCAC.
The Ephs first faced the Colby Mules Saturday morning. Williams jumped out to an early lead in the early match, but fell behind after a few unforced errors. Colby capitalized on the Ephs mistakes and took the first game, 16-14. The second and third games saw an improvement in Eph play as they took a win in each game.
The fourth game was much more of a struggle for Williams as Colby garnered a 12-5 lead. Intent on winning the match, Williams’ defense made some adjustments and quickly stopped all Mule attacks. With solid defense the Ephs were able to take the game 15-13 and the match 3-1.
The next matchup was the Ephs most important of the day, facing Bates who is ranked two spots higher than Williams in regional polls. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a back and forth match with the teams answering each other ball for ball.
Williams took an 11-10 lead but was ultimately unsuccessful as they dropped the first game to Bates.
The Ephs’ took the second game, but Bates battled back to win the third. Down 2-1 with the match on the line, Williams fought hard in the fourth game to come out with a win and send the game into a rally score fifth game. Williams gave up the first few crucial points to Bates, but quickly regrouped and tied the match at 7-7. The Bobcats struck next, forcing the side change and taking an 8-7 lead.
The Ephs, however, kept pushing forward and fighting back with sideouts and attacks. After some solid defensive plays and hard attacks from the front line, Williams was able to reach match point and a 14-12 lead.
The Ephs played the next point with confidence, calmly digging at Bates to set up a kill for the victory. Williams walked away with a 15-12 win in the game and a 3-2 win in the match.
The last match of the day was the easiest for the Ephs, playing a weaker Bowdoin team. Despite a few errors early on, Williams began serving tougher balls and took the first game with ease.
The Ephs dominated the rest of the match putting down their attacks and digging Bowdoin’s attempts, with Williams ending the match with a commanding third game win, 15-2 and a 3-0 win for the match.
Williams head coach Fran Vadermeer was pleased with the effort, but is already preparing for next week. “Smile about today, but we have a tougher weekend ahead of us,” she told her team after Saturday’s wins.
The Ephs ended the day with three more wins and remained unbeaten in NESCAC tournament matches to remain ranked first in the league, tied with rival Amherst. With their record now improved to 16-3, Williams will face Amherst next weekend at Middlebury to battle for the title.
Before then, Williams must face Smith in their last home game of the season. The match, which will be played on Senior Night, is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Chandler Gym. The following Saturday, the Ephs have their toughest NESCAC quad yet, taking on Amherst, Middlebury and Tufts.