Volleyball struggles at Juniata, falls 3-0

Volleyball (16-10, 6-2 in the NESCAC) went 0-3 at the Wid Guisler Invitational at Juniata this weekend. The women faced nationally ranked No. 4 Emory and No. 1 Juniata on Saturday and No. 5 Eastern on Friday night.

“Going up against our nation’s best teams is always an opportunity to learn about our team and use it as a measurement of where our program is currently at as a whole,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “Both individually and collectively our group walked away … with a renewed perspective about how far we’ve come this season and yet still how much more we can work toward in the weeks ahead.”

Emory dropped the women 3-0 on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles jumped out to an early 7-2 lead that the Ephs could not close, dropping the set 25-7 to start down 1-0. A closer second set saw Williams rally, but the team’s improved play was still not enough to overthrow Emory, who claimed the set 25-16. A 25-12 third set rounded out Emory’s win. Co-captain Kate Anderson ’11 had eight kills on the match.

The team’s tough loss to Emory came on the heels of a 3-1 loss to Juniata earlier on Saturday. The women jumped out to an early 5-4 lead in the first set, but the host team rebounded from its slow start to take the set 26-19. A hard-fought second set with a number of lead changes saw the Ephs come out on top at 26-24. The team pulled ahead at 11-10 after a powerful block by Emily Doll ’14 and, while Juniata temporarily evened the score, Williams came out on top to tie the count at 1-1.

The third set saw Williams falter, as Anderson struggled to make any kills despite her total of 13 for the match. The women had initially closed the gap to 11-9, but Juniata outscored them 14-4 for the rest of the set. Those 14 Eagle points gave the home team a commanding 25-13 win to take the competition to the fourth set. Juniata also claimed that set, which was out of the women’s reach after the Eagles took a 17-10 lead. Juniata closed the match out at 25-19 for the 3-1 win.

Eastern dispatched the women 3-2 on Friday. Though the Ephs claimed the first set 25-23, they stumbled in the second, dropping 25-8 after allowing the Eagles to amass an early 8-2 lead. Co-captain Nicole Ballon-Landa ’11 sealed the third set for her team, forcing the competition to five sets with Williams up 2-1. Two more sets, however, saw the women falter. Eastern claimed the next two 25-13 and 15-4 to walk away with the win.

“This weekend was a tremendous experience for our team,” Kelsey said. “It was an opportunity for us to represent our region, and I felt like for the most part we really battled hard against three teams ranked in the top five in the country.”

The women will travel to Hamilton this weekend for their final NESCAC match-ups of the regular season. The team will face Amherst at 8 p.m. on Friday before challenging Middlebury at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“This week will be a tough one,” Kelsey said. ”The NESCAC has been a battle all year so our focus this weekend is on the two matches ahead and no further.”

NESCAC Quarterfinals will begin on Nov. 5.

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