Volleyball clinches regular season conference crown

In yet another successful NESCAC weekend, volleyball swept Wesleyan and Trinity to clinch the regular-season conference title. The victories push the Ephs’ winning streak to 14, earning Williams (25-3 overall; 9-1 NESCAC) the right to host the postseason championship.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” said Head Coach Fran Vandermeer, whose squad’s last defeat came to Coast Guard during a late-September triple-header. “They have worked hard for this all year.”

In Saturday’s first contest, Williams rolled over Little Three rival Wesleyan, 30-26, 30-20, 30-16. It was a tough Cardinals team that took the floor, and the Ephs struggled through the first game. Eventually, a strong service game emerged to put pressure on the Wesleyan backline, and following the 30-26 game one win, the sweep was on, and the Cardinals never again threatened.

“I think that we executed nicely, we communicated pretty well,” said outside hitter Robin Young ’05; Young, who has battled through an injury for most of the season, managed to hammer 16 kills, dig 10 balls and tally six service aces against Wesleyan. “We knew that we were playing a good team, but it was on the line, and we really just outplayed them.”

“If you look at each of the games, the scores got better because we really knew what we were going after,” said Annie Denison ’06, who recorded nine kills and seven digs from her outside hitter position. “We had to play good defense, and execute on offense, and we were able to do that.”

Setter Meg Demment ’05 added 33 assists and seven digs for the Ephs, while Joyia Chadwick ’05 made her presence felt with five blocks. On offense, middle blocker Akilah Rogers ’04 recorded seven kills without an error.

Having already wrapped up at least a share of the conference title, the Ephs were not satisfied. The squad had already beaten Trinity earlier in the season, and with that victory in the back of their minds, the Ephs were able to focus their defensive effort on the best Bantam hitter and keep her in check. That strong defense, combined with an excess of offensive options helped to fuel the Ephs’ 3-0 (30-20, 30-19, 30-19) victory over the NESCAC foe.

“At that point in the day, we knew that if we won, we’d have the right to host,” Young said after adding 10 kills to the Williams effort. “Hosting was something that we really wanted, so we took it to them.”

Standing out during the latter contest was Michelle Kron ’04, who led the transition game with 21 digs. Her passing led to Demment’s always-reliable setting and helped the sophomore setter to tally 42 assists on the match. Demment also recorded 11 digs and four block assists. Up front, Chadwick and Denison combined for 28 kills as the Ephs dominated both sides of the ball.

Finishing atop the conference with a mark of 9-1, Williams will host the 2002 NESCAC Championship on Nov. 8 and 9. The format of the eight-team tournament will be single-elimination, and will be held in Chandler Gymnasium.

Colby, 8-2 in NESCAC play, will be the second seed in the tournament and will face seventh seed Middlebury. The Panthers defeated Connecticut College and Trinity on the final day of NESCAC competition to finish with a 4-6 record.

In other first round action, third seed Amherst (8-2 NESCAC) will meet sixth seeded Tufts (6-4 NESCAC) and fourth seed Bates, who finished 7-3 in NESCAC competition, will square off with fifth seed Wesleyan (6-4 NESCAC). Williams will meet eighth seed Trinity (4-6 NESCAC) in the first round.

Williams won the 2001 Championship with a five-game victory over Wesleyan. The NESCAC tournament champion will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship.