Volleyball hopes to host NESCACs after 5 wins

In a packed two weeks, volleyball (16-7, 6-2 in the NESCAC) went 5-1. Wins over Tufts on Saturday, Bates and Hamilton on Oct. 9, Colby on Oct. 8 and New Paltz State on Oct. 6 were marred only by a close loss to Tufts on Friday night. The four recent conference wins have left the Ephs in prime position heading into the final stretch of NESCAC play. The women’s current position in the NESCAC means that they have the potential to host the NESCAC tournament in three weeks.

The women took on Bowdoin at Tufts Saturday morning. The team walked away with a well-deserved, if tight, five-set victory. The Ephs took the Polar Bears 3-2 (13-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-13, 15-10). Williams was bolstered by co-captain Kate Anderson ’11, who had 19 kills and 19 digs on the day, and co-captain Emily Avis ’11, who tallied 14 digs. Emily Baratta ’14 and Lauren Agoubi ’13 also contributed 15 digs each.

The previous night, Williams endured a tough road loss to archrival Tufts. Seeking to avenge an early season loss to the Jumbos, the Ephs stumbled and fell short, succumbing in five sets (24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 8-15).

“We have had a solid stretch of matches lately due a lot to our team’s dedication each week in practice to improve and get better,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “Even though we lost to Tufts on Friday, we have still played some really consistent, strong volleyball in this stretch.”

Williams hosted its only NESCAC weekend of the regular season Oct. 8 and 9, as the women faced Colby, Bates and Hamilton over two days. The Ephs played to their home court advantage and did not drop a set, blanking all three opponents 3-0 in a marathon 36 hours.

The team’s thorough dismissal of its NESCAC opponents came on the heels of a grueling win over New York regional power New Paltz State in Chandler Gymnasium on Oct. 6. Tough competition forced the game to five sets, but the women eventually dropped their opponents 3-2.

“The team has been really driven lately to push our intensity level in practice and demand more of each other to get better each and every day we step on the court,” Kelsey said when asked what’s contributed to recent successes on the court. “That mentality and effort has helped us become a stronger team and will only continue to help us improve as we go forward.”

This weekend the team will travel to Huntingdon, Penn. to take on three teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally. Host Juniata, as well as Emory and Eastern, will prove tough competition for the women. Game times are still undetermined, but the Juniata Invitational will take place sometime on Friday and Saturday.

“Our goal for the remainder of the regular season is to continue to challenge our ability to maintain and prolong our consistent play for longer and longer stretches in matches,” Kelsey said. “This means continually pushing our intensity, focus and skill execution on court. Our conference is tremendously strong this year, so we have to keep improving and moving forward to prepare for the battles ahead.”

The women will wrap up regular season conference play at Hamilton the weekend following, where they will face Amherst on Oct. 29 and Middlebury on Oct. 30. These last few NESCAC matches will determine which team hosts the NESCAC tournament, which will kick off on Nov. 5.

Additional reporting by Meghan Kiesel.

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