Volleyball recovers after 2 losses to Amherst

With the postseason coming on quickly, volleyball (18-12, 3-3 in the NESCAC) battled out a four-game week to end with a split, going 2-1 for the weekend while losing to Amherst at home last Tuesday.

On Saturday the women posted two wins against Smith and Brandeis after the second loss to Amherst in a week on Friday night at the Hall of Fame Tournament at Smith. Springfield took top honors in the Gold Bracket; only Tufts, Wellesley and Amherst managed to pull spots over the women. On Saturday afternoon, the women secured their fifth-place tournament finish with their victory over Brandeis (25-14, 28-26, 18-25, 25-19). The Judges consistently narrowed the scoring gap, leading up to their third match victory. Nonplussed, the Ephs remained firm and did not allow them to turn back the tide. At the end of the series, Kate Anderson ’11 was awarded a slot on the All-Tournament Team.

“The win against Brandeis was good for us because we lost to them earlier, and they are a great regional team,” co-captain Chelsea Kubal ’10 said.

Morning play featured a comeback win over Smith (25-12, 25-11, 22-25, 25-14). Melissa Pun ’10 returned from her injury to register an impressive 25 assists and five kills for the team in a strong return.
Friday’s game against Amherst at Smith was especially frustrating for Williams because the scoring did not reflect the drive of the Ephs. After winning the first set, the Ephs proceeded to drop the next three (25-13, 16-25, 18-25, 21-25). Despite the loss, co-captain Riki McDermott ’09 posted a solid 19 digs on the evening, and Andersen and Whitney Hitchcock ’10 both made seven kills and four blocks each.

“The game against Amherst was such a big letdown because we had the motivation to win,” McDermott said. “Our ability to come back Saturday and win showed how mature we are as a team.”

On Oct. 21, the Ephs hosted the Jeffs in a matchup that ended in an upsetting loss (16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 17-25). This marked the first loss at home for the women this season. Taking Williams by storm, Amherst grabbed wins in the first two sets before the Ephs took back the third set. Unfortunately, a similar rally could not be staged in the fourth, leaving the Jeffs with the win. Anderson topped the scoring for the night with 14 kills and two blocks. Aly McKinnon ’12 also had a standout performance with 26 digs.

“The next four matches are crucial, so we have to go in competitive with no preconceptions for the team,” Kubal said. “Once NESCACs start, it’s like a whole new season.”

The women are scheduled to travel to Middlebury for a conference match tonight at 7 p.m.