Midd. bests volleyball

Volleyball (16-12, 6-4 in the NESCAC) rounded out the regular season with a Saturday morning loss to Middlebury at Hamilton after falling to Amherst 3-2 on Friday. The two conference matches mark the end of the regular season and decided the seeding for this weekend’s upcoming NESCAC tournament in which the Ephs are seeded sixth.

Middlebury dropped Williams 3-1 on Saturday, dealing the Ephs a loss to end their regular season. Despite 22 kills on the day by co-captain Kate Anderson ’11 and 12 and eight kills, respectively, from co-captains Nicole Ballon-Landa ’11 and Eleanor Levine ’11, the women couldn’t put it all together to defeat the Panthers. Middlebury took an early lead, pulling away from an 11-11 tie to take the first set 25-15. Williams, however, posted an impressive second set, taking a 7-4 lead early on and then expanding its advantage to take the set 25-18 and tie the match 1-1.

The women’s rally faded as quickly as it had come: The Panthers responded in the next set, elbowing the Ephs out with a 25-17 win. The deciding fourth set also went to Middlebury, 25-22, giving the Panthers a 3-1 win and a second seed in the NESCAC tournament.

“I think we played extremely well at times and a bit flat at others,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “This is a tough conference, and the matches are battles each night, so while we are disappointed to go 0-2 for the weekend, we still saw some great volleyball.”

Amherst dropped Williams 3-2 on Friday, overcoming the Ephs by just a slight margin of victory. The women’s archrivals came out strong Friday night on the Hamilton court, claiming the first two sets 25-22 and 25-17, respectively. The Ephs struggled to perform in the first two match-ups, tallying 14 kills that were all but outweighed by their 11 errors in the first set. A mere nine kills in the second set showcased the women’s lackluster offense as they began the match.

Amherst went into the third set feeling confident, especially because a win over the Ephs would guarantee the Jeffs the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC tournament. Despite starting the first set down, Williams rallied after Aly McKinnon ’12 evened the score at 18-18. Strong play saw the evenly matched teams even the score again at 20-20 before Anderson stepped up to serve, bringing home the women’s 25-21 win.

The team’s offense continued to perform in the fourth set, with Anderson tallying 25 kills and fellow co-captain Emily Avis ’11 contributing 13 more en route to a 25-16 domination. Williams’ second win forced the match into a fifth set.

The Jeffs and Ephs traded the lead throughout the fifth set. It looked as though the women were going to be able to pull out a win as they pulled ahead at 17-16, but Amherst rallied once more to finish out the set and the match at 18-16 for a win and the first seed in the NESCAC.

The NESCAC tournament will be held this weekend at Amherst. The women will face Bowdoin in the quarterfinals at 8 p.m. on Friday. A win would allow the team to continue to the semifinals on Saturday. The final match will take place at noon Sunday.

“The key to NESCACs this week for any of the eight teams still playing is to be peaking at just the right time to make a run through the tourney,” Kelsey said. “Mentally and physically, I think we are prepared as best we can [be] for the challenge ahead.”

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