Volleyball downs MIT, Wellesley

Women’s volleyball (6-0, 0-0 in the NESCAC) notched two hard-earned victories on Saturday, beating MIT and Wellesley in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Challenge. The wins allowed the Ephs to remain undefeated this season.

The MIT Engineers were the first team to fall victim to the Ephwomen’s domination. They were defeated by a score of 3-2 (30-16, 30-22, 27-30, 27-30, 20-18.) The first two games of the match were a testament to the strength of volleyball this year.

With the help of Annie Denison ’06, who had 11 kills and ruled the court on both the offensive and defensive sides, Williams quickly jumped out to a 17-8 lead, which developed into a 30-16 win and initial domination for the Ephs. The women maintained their pressure in the second game and secured a 30-22 win. The Engineers rebounded though, taking the third and fourth matches, 27-30 and 27-30.

However, the Ephs inevitably stepped up in a battle for the fifth and final game. The last game was only scored to 15, and so when the Engineers took an early 6-8 lead, things seemed like they had taken a turn for the worst.

The Ephs quickly reversed their fortunes and stepped up to a 12-11 advantage. MIT, however, was quick to tie it up again at 13. Nearing the end of the game, a kill by Joyia Chadwick ’05 left Williams in sight of victory until MIT brought the score to 14-14. The score continued to shift its favor between both teams, until MIT missed a serve to give Williams a 1-point advantage, which the women then turned into a 20-18 victory.

In the second match, the Ephs went up against Wellesley College, another strong competitor. However, the women did not let up, and eventually pulled off a 3-2 win (30-26, 27-30, 30-21, 20-30, 15-8). An abundance of errors in the second match kept the Ephwomen from a smoother, more effortless win, especially in game one when they nearly lost their 6-point lead due to defensive errors.

“We played defense in clutch situations and it was a good experience for our younger players,” Head Coach Fran Vandermeer said. “We will, however, be working a lot on our defense in practice this week.”

Eventually, their ability to perform in clutch situations became apparent and the women rallied and defeated Wellesley, 30-26. However, Williams was overtaken in game two, during which Wellesly maintained a 3-point lead for almost the entire game. The third game came with more errors for Williams, but the women still managed to pull of a 30-21 win, only to go down 20-30 in game four.

Determined to again take victory in game five, the Ephs started off strong, taking a 12-6 lead. They maintained their advantage throughout the game and finished with a 15-8 triumph. However, “Wellesley was not really dictating the play, it was us making errors,” Chadwick said. That said, the abundance of errors does not take away from the strength and talent coming from the players on Saturday.

Chadwick was a standout player in game five, ending the match with 18 kills and 11 blocks. Denison was another key player with 20 kills throughout the match, and as always, captain Akilah Rogers ’04 was a force on the court with eight kills in the first match.

These two major wins on Saturday allowed the women’s volleyball team to dominate the NEWMAC challenge and are hopefully previews for what is still to come this season. The excellence and strength of the team will again be tested when the women go up against Amherst in a head-to-head competition on Friday at 6 p.m. at Williams.