Volleyball goes 2-2 in tourney

Volleyball (2-2, 0-0 in the NESCAC) opened up its season this past weekend at the Brandeis Invitational tournament, where the team placed second in the silver championship bracket after going a combined 2-2 in pool play and the championship round. The weekend was highlighted by a resounding 3-0 (27-25, 25-15, 25-19) rout of Bates Saturday afternoon, which saw Williams emphatically reassert its dominance as the defending NESCAC champion. Co-captain Kate Anderson ’11 drove the team, slamming home a team-leading 23 kills to power the Eph offense. Anderson hit an astonishing .408 average in the match.

Defensively, the Ephs relied on the steady passing of Aly McKinnon ’12, who finished the match with 14 digs, second on the team only to Anderson’s 15. McKinnon was named to the All-Tournament team for her stellar defensive play throughout all four matches. Setter and co-captain Emily Avis ’11 facilitated the Ephs’ powerful attack by distributing 42 assists in the match, an average of 14.0 per set.

In contrast to the complete pounding of the Bobcats, the Ephs had a tougher time earlier on Saturday when they fell to Dominican in straight sets 25-16, 25-15, 25-16. The Ephs were thoroughly outplayed by the Stars, as Dominican’s strong blocking was able to stymie the Williams offense, limiting Anderson and co-captain Nicole Ballon-Landa ’11 to a combined 11 kills on 34 attempts for an uncharacteristically low attack average of .118. Anderson led the team with eight digs, while Avis and McKinnon added a further seven apiece. Rookie Emily Doll ’14 had three service aces in the loss.

Williams endured a frustrating 3-1 loss to regional rival UMass-Boston on Friday night. The match was the latest installment in a burgeoning rivalry between the two teams, cemented last year with Williams’ 3-1 trouncing of UMass in the NCAA regional semifinal. This time though, the Beacons easily cruised through the first two sets 25-14 and 25-22 before the Ephs battled back to take a hard-fought third set with a score of 25-18. In the end, the Ephs fell just short in their comeback bid, as the Beacons closed out their four-set victory with a score of 25-18.

Emily Baratta ’14, playing in only her second collegiate match, had 12 digs in a three-way tie for the team lead with McKinnon and Avis. Baratta also slammed home six kills, second only to Anderson’s team-leading 13. Lauren Agoubi ’13 served well, notching three aces in the course of the match.

Earlier on Friday, the women outplayed an outmatched squad from Rhode Island College in a routine 3-0 victory (25-13, 25-12, 25-14) to open the day on a positive note.

Williams is optimistic about the rest of the season as the women look to defend their NESCAC title in the upcoming months. They also have their eyes set on a return to the NCAA Elite 8 for the first time since 2008. “We played really well for an opening weekend,” said co-captain Eleanor Levine ’11. “We look forward to building our season from here. We established a good starting point to go from.”

Williams faced off against another non-conference opponent in Vassar last night, but results came in too late to report. Conference play begins this weekend with road games against Conn. College at 6 p.m. on Friday and both Wesleyan and Trinity at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively, on Saturday. The women will be competing at Conn. College all weekend.