Volleyball concludes MIT Invitational in 4th

Volleyball (7-5, 2-1 in the NESCAC) endured a tough weekend at the MIT Invitational, going 2-2 overall en route to a fourth place finish. Competing against the best teams in the region, the Ephs showed flashes of the potential that makes them a dangerous contender in every match but struggled to put it all together.

In taking fourth place, the women dropped a close and hard fought decision to Springfield 3-0 (27-25, 25-17, 25-22) on Saturday in the Gold Bracket Consolation match. The Ephs battled back after an early deficit in the first set and seemed on the verge of pulling off a hard-fought comeback until the team faltered in the end. After a long weekend, the Ephs simply ran out of gas while trying to catapult themselves back into the driver’s seat of the match, leading to close losses in the subsequent two sets.

Williams struggled to assert its trademark offensive dominance against Springfield, but the team’s twin cannons of co-captains Kate Anderson ’11 and Nicole Ballon-Landa ’11 were held to a combined 12 kills. Outside hitter Haley Eagon ’13 slammed home six kills in seven attempts for a team-leading attack average of .714. All of Eagon’s kills came in the third set.

Earlier on Saturday, the women fell 3-0 in straight sets (25-14, 25-19, 25-15) to eventual tournament champion Tufts. The Ephs were led in this weekend’s iteration of the rivalry by Ballon-Landa, who threw down a team-leading seven kills in 11 attempts for a superb attack average of .636. For her efforts over the course of the weekend, a combined 32 kills in 53 attempts for an attack average of .547 through 4 matches, Ballon-Landa was named to the All-Tournament team. Defensively, the team was lead by setter and co-captain Emily Avis ’11, who had 13 digs in addition to 16 assists. Aly McKinnon ’12 was second on the team with 10 digs.

On Friday night the team opened up pool play strong, defeating two tough opponents in MIT and North Park. Williams took a two set lead, 25-19, 25-17 against the Engineers before dropping a close third set 26-28. Coming into the fourth set fired up, Williams dropped the hammer on its host to the tune of a 25-16 victory. Earlier in the evening, the team beat up on overmatched North Park 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-19).

While the women might be a little disappointed in their showing at the tournament, they have a lot to be proud of. “Overall, this weekend was another good measuring point of where we stack up early in the season,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “We had two great wins Friday and tough losses on Saturday. Consistency and being able to maintain our pace of play night in and night out is key.”

Williams matched up against Union last night, but results came in too late to report. The women will travel to Stevens for the Stevens Tech Invitational this Saturday and Sunday.