Volleyball falters in opening conference competition

Volleyball (4-7, 0-2 in the NESCAC) opened conference play against Conn. College and Tufts last weekend with a tournament at Conn. College. The women dropped both matches.The women also fell 3-0 at Vassar on Sept. 14.

In Friday’s match against Conn. College, the women started strong, taking the first set 25-23. They boasted a .342 hitting percentage in the set, the highest percentage the team posted in the match. The next three sets proved tougher for the Ephs, as they lost the match to the Camels by a score of 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 25-22).

Rookie Claire Miller ’15 played a strong game, consistently sending attacks across the net and creating 11 kills for the team. Co-captain Aly McKinnon ’12 had 24 digs in the match, the highest total the Eph has recorded this season. “[McKinnon] has been really consistent this season,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said, adding that McKinnon’s performance has been critical to the women’s success this season. McKinnon and Lauren Agoubi ’13 each notched two service aces in the match.

On Day Two of the tournament, the women struggled to recover from Friday’s tough loss against national No. 2 Tufts. The Jumbos are the reigning NESCAC champions.

The first set was a back-and-forth battle, with scoring nearly even distributed. Tufts eventually grabbed a lead, however, ultimately winning the game 25-15. The Ephs initially dominated the second set, but the Jumbos managed to steal the lead late in the match and take the second set by a score of 25-22.

The women fell behind 24-19 in the third set before McKinnon stepped to the back line and manufactured an extraordinary comeback. The co-captain turned in a series of stellar serves and prevented the ball from being grounded in the women’s court for the remainder of the set. The women won the set 26-24.

This triumph gave the women one last chance at a comeback, but Tufts held on to win the final set 28-26. The Ephs fell behind by a score of 24-18, when rookie Holly Harper ’15 took to the back line and brought the team even with Tufts at 24-24. This come-from-behind set saw the Ephs’ highest point score of the match at .286. The women’s best effort was not enough, however, and Tufts held on to take the set and the match.

Despite the disappointing result, Kelsey is optimistic about the season. “All 12 people played some sort of role this week,” Kelsey said. “Knowing that everyone can contribute is really important.”

The women lost against Vassar on Sept. 14. The rookies  led the way for the Ephs in the match, with Miller creating 14 kills and Amanda Schott ’15 setting up 34 assists. Jen Borderud ’13 played a crucial role in the game, creating 11 digs off the bench.

“In the Vassar match, [Borderud] had one of her best nights for us defensively,” Kelsey said. However, the Brewers came out ahead, winning the match in straight sets 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 26-24).

“This week was a good learning experience for our team,” Kelsey said. “It was a good challenge for us to see where we really need to improve and how we’re going to work on that going forward.”

The team will host Southern Vermont at 7 p.m. tonight. This weekend, the women will compete in the MIT Invitational. The women will host Union on Tuesday at 7 p.m.