Volleyball rolls past trio of NESCAC foes

Last weekend, volleyball (11-5, 3-2 in the NESCAC) traveled to Hamilton for its second weekend of conference play. The women defeated Trinity 3-2 and Hamilton 3-0 on Saturday after overcoming Wesleyan 3-1 on Friday. On Sept. 27, the women dismantled Union at home by a score of 3-1.

On Saturday, the women took on Trinity, who entered play third in the NESCAC stamdomgs. The Bantams opened an early lead over the Ephs, taking the first set quickly by a score of 25-21. Trinity started the second set with a 2-0 lead, forcing the women’s offense to buckle down and come from behind. The women powered to a 28-26 victory in the second set.

The Bantams did not let up in the third set, taking a 25-20 victory to pull ahead 2-1 in the match. The women came back in the next set and leveled play with a 25-19 win. In the fifth and deciding set, the Ephs dominated to the tune of a 15-12 victory.

“I think we learned how to really grind each point out and kept fighting to win long rallies and strings of points throughout each set,” Head Coach Christi Kesley said.

The women played impressive defense in the match with 120 digs, their highest total since the 2004 season. Co-captain and libero Aly McKinnon ’12 led the team in the match, notching 38 digs, a program record. Claire Miller ’15 had 30 digs, and co-captain Haley Eagon ’13 and Raea Rasmussen ’15 each had seven blocks. Miller led the team with 17 kills, while Emily Baratta ’14 had 11. Eagon and Rasmussen chipped in nine kills each.

“I think our team defense collectively stood out this past weekend,” Kelsey said. “We had 127 digs and 12 total blocks in our match against Trinity. The 127 digs was the third best all-time team digs total for Williams Volleyball. To have our defense anchor our team this past weekend in such a big way is huge for us going forward.”

In the afternoon matchup, the women played tournament host Hamilton. After roaring into their prime in the last two sets against Trinity, the women were prepared to dominate against Hamilton. The Ephs won a statement 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-22) victory over the Continentals. Miller again led the team in kills with 11, and McKinnon led the women with 20 digs. Rookie Amanda Schott ’15 chipped in an additional 13 digs.

The women also walked away with a victory against Wesleyan on Friday. Despite committing numerous team errors, the Ephs earned a slim two-point win in the first set to outlast the Cardinals by a score of 25-23. The Ephs performed better in the second set, pounding 21 kills over the Cardinals. The women recorded an astounding .714 hitting percentage in the set and dominated Wesleyan 25-13. The Cardinals rebounded in the third set, however, nipping the Ephs for a 26-24 victory. The women then withstood Wesleyan’s pressure and earned the match victory in the fourth set. They broke open a 7-0 lead and then held fast to win the final set 25-13.

On Sept. 27, the women hosted Union, winning the match 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 15-25, 25-15). Miller fired the team to victories in the first two sets, leading the team with 16 digs and 16 kills. McKinnon contributed 13 digs.

Baratta had nine kills in the game, and Rasmussen contributed eight kills and seven blocks. Emily Doll ’14 added another six kills and four blocks, while Schott tossed up 42 assists.

Miller was named NESCAC Player of the Week for her performance last week.

“It’s been fun for me to see how much we keep improving each week,” Kelsey said. “This group continues to put forth the effort day in and day out to build on what we’ve learned. We have another challenging week ahead, so it will be interesting to see how we can continue to step up.”

The women will play at New Paltz State today at 7 p.m. They will then host a weekend of NESCAC play on Friday and Saturday, taking on squads from Bowdoin, Bates and Colby.