Volleyball (22-12, 7-3 in the NESCAC) found its groove this week with four conference wins to close out the regular season as the fourth-ranked team in the NESCAC. The team headed off to Colby on Friday for the NESCAC weekend, where the women notched three more conference wins by dispatching Colby, Bowdoin and Bates after having beaten Middlebury on the road on Wednesday. With these four wins, the Ephs finished their regular season with a six-game winning streak.
“It was a great weekend and definitely helped us work out some kinks before the NESCAC playoffs begin,” co-captain Chelsea Kubal ’10 said.
After getting off to a slow start in the opening set Saturday morning, the Ephs resumed their winning ways and steamrolled the Polar Bears in the last three sets to take the match (22-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-13). The women gathered momentum throughout the game, visibly achieving more team cohesion. In the latter sets the women put forth the consistent, defensive effort that Head Coach Fran Vandermeer has been searching for all year.
Riding high on the success of the morning, the Ephs handled the Bobcats in the afternoon in three quick sets (25-17, 25-20, 25-10).
The combination of offensive precision and defensive consistency proved too much for Bates, who were unable to salvage a single set.
“I think the team improved on making the changes that we have been harping on all season, specifically swinging over the block, maintaining strong hands on the black and communicating early in the play,” Kubal said. “Our play at the net really turned out to be a decisive factor this weekend, and we need to continue this next weekend.”
Volleyball gained momentum on Friday night with a convincing three set (25-21, 25-12, 25-21) victory over Colby. An all-around effort by the women carried them to their second consecutive NESCAC victory.
The Ephs opened the successful week by defeating the Panthers last Wednesday in four hard-fought sets (25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 25-10). Kubal helped lead the Ephs to victory with a gutsy all-around effort (nine assists, 16 digs, 11 kills and three blocks). The rest of the women backed up Kubal with strong play at the net and on defense. Melissa Pun ’10 also worked as setter and netted 30 assists and two aces. With this win, the Ephs broke out of a season-long funk that had caused them to lose their last two conference matches.
With this late-season run the women acquired the fourth seed and will face Middlebury at Tufts this weekend in the NESCAC tournament. Despite numerous tough losses, struggles and injuries, the Ephs are confident about their prospects this weekend.
“I think the team morale is high,” Kubal said. “We are all very excited to play this upcoming weekend, but we are also very focused and aware that we need to keep working hard every day in practice in order to ensure that we keep playing late into November. We are all excited to face the competition this weekend and feel prepared to take on our opponents.”