The Williams Volleyball team faced fierce competition over the past two weeks, taking on several NESCAC rivals, including Amherst, and five of the top-ranked teams in the region. The Ephs mixed success with disappointment, garnering important victories but suffering losses at the hands of weaker opponents.
This past weekend, the women traveled to Northhampton, Mass., where they participated in the celebrated Hall of Fame Tournament. They began the weekend with a decisive 3-0 victory over NESCAC opponent Hamilton College. Next up was first ranked Wellesley College; the Ephs started slowly, losing the first game 15-3 before rebounding with a better effort in the next game. Although the Ephs fought hard, they came up short, losing the match 3-0.
Saturday morning Williams played Brandeis in a gold bracket match. The Ephs came out strong, passing well and finishing plays en route to taking the first game 15-12. But Williams was unable to hold on; Brandeis fought back to take the next three games and win the match 3-1. This loss pitted Williams against a powerful, second-ranked Springfield team, whom the Ephs have not defeated in the past three years. The Ephs began the game strong, striking with the first kill off an excellent service reception. Williams played their best defense to date, digging nearly all of Springfield’s swings and grabbing the first game, 15-8. Keeping the momentum, Williams continued to dig and block Springfield’s toughest hitters while building an attack of their own. The Ephs jumped out to an early lead, but Springfield fought back to take a 9-8 advantage. Williams did not give up, continuing their defense and snatching a 15-13 victory.
Williams came out a little more relaxed in the third game and Springfield capitalized. The Pride jumped out to a quick lead, holding off the Eph comeback to take the third game 15-9. Springfield retained the momentum through the early part of the fourth game, quickly garnering an 8-2 lead. But Williams took a timeout, regrouped, and took the court with determination. Once again defense and blocking were key and Springfield this time failed to squelch an Eph counterattack. Williams took the fourth game 15-9 and the match 3-1, breaking out of their long drought.
Earlier in the week, Williams traveled to Middlebury where they faced the Panthers in a dual match. It was tough night for the Ephs, and their second trip to Vermont in five days. Despite flashes of solid play Williams could not put together a consistent effort and fell to Middlebury in three games.
On October 14th, Williams played in the final NESCAC quad of the season, with the final seedings for the upcoming NESCAC tournament on the line. Held at Middlebury, the Ephs had a daunting day and three strong opponents: Amherst, Middlebury and Tufts.
Williams matched up first with rival Amherst College in their first meeting of the season. The longest match played by the Ephs this season, it went five games and lasted nearly three hours. The marathon contest began with the Ephs taking a lead, but the Jeffs fighting back to tie the game at 14. The teams battled but Williams was able to finish first with an 18-16 win. The second game was a similar battle, but this time the Lord Jeffs nabbed the 16-14 edge. The third game was the longest of the match, with both teams showing their tenacity and determination as they battled back and forth the entire way. Williams again came up short, losing the battle 19-17. Although they lost the battle, the Ephs would ultimately win the war, taking the next two games in a more decisive manner, 15-12 and 15-13 in the fifth, rally scoring, game. Williams notched the 3-2 victory over Amherst with a solid team effort as all aspects of the Eph game were key to the win.
Only thirty minutes after the lengthy match with Amherst Williams stepped on the court to face Middlebury. Perhaps fatigued from the earlier match, Williams fell to Middlebury in the first two games. Unwilling to give up, the Ephs fought hard in the next games and tied the match at 2-2. The fifth and deciding game was a battle between the teams, and Williams fell short, 15-13 and Middlebury took the match. Williams next played Tufts in another long match. Despite taking the first two games, Williams’ fatigue set in and the Jumbos were too much for the Ephs as they fell 3-2 in another five game match.
Earlier that week Williams played their final regular season home match against Smith College. It was a quick, three-game win for the Ephs, as they honored their senior co-captains, Shekinah Cohn and Carolyn Ryan in their final home games.
Despite playing one of the tougher NESCAC schedules, the Ephs go into the Little Three Championship this weekend part of a four way tie for first place in NESCAC. With their record currently at 20-9, they have already bettered last season’s record and look to their two biggest weekends of the season to build on it. Tomorrow, Williams travels to Vassar for a 7 p.m. match. This weekend, Wesleyan hosts both Amherst and Williams for the highly contested Little Three Championship. Williams enters the contest having beaten both Amherst and Wesleyan, but the Ephs have not won the Little Three since 1997 and look to stop Amherst from winning their third consecutive championship.