Volleyball drops three at Emory Invitational

Volleyball (7-4, 2-0 in the NESCAC) went 1-3 at the Emory Invitational on Emory’s Atlanta, Ga., campus last weekend.

On Saturday, the women drew Emory and Maryville, and despite playing with intensity, Williams fell to both opponents in straight sets. On Day One of the weekend’s play, Williams pulled off a grueling five-set victory against a virtually unknown opponent, NAIA school Trevecca Nazarene. The women lost their second match 3-0 on Friday to No. 12 Elmhurst after coming off their marathon first match.

On Day Two of the Emory Invitational, the women first faced Maryville. With the women struggling both offensively and defensively in a frustrating matchup, Maryville took them down 3-0 (25-23, 25-11, 25-17). Co-captain Emily Doll ’14, Claire Miller ’15 and Emily Baratta ’14 each had seven kills, but the team’s difficulties on defense and in serve reception spelled its defeat. As a team, the Ephs tallied just 35 digs and committed 18 hitting errors and seven service errors, giving their opponents ample opportunity to increase their lead.

In Saturday’s second match, No. 6 Emory took just three sets to drop Williams. The Ephs knew that they would need to play controlled and consistent volleyball to have a shot at an upset. However, the Eagles proved too much for the Ephs and won the first set 25-17, the second set 25-16 and the third 25-23. Offensively, Doll paved the way with a team-high 10 kills. Outside hitter Raea Rasmussen ’15 led the team in hitting percentage with seven kills in 13 attempts and just two errors for a .385 percentage. On the defensive end, libero Emily O’Day ’15 led the team with 17 digs, while Miller also fought her way into the double digits with 10 digs. Setter Ryan Farley ’16 dished out 28 assists in the match.

On Friday, Williams opened its match against Trevecca Nazarene with a close first-set loss at 23-25. The Ephs rebounded in the second set to pull out a tight 25-23 win. After going down early in the third set, the women managed to come away with a 25-21 victory. In another nail-biting set, Trevecca Nazarene eked out a 23-25 win in the fourth set, sending the match into a fifth. In the fifth-set race to 15 points, O’Day gave Williams a quick 3-0 serving run to begin the set. The Ephs’ opponent managed to even the score up, and the two teams continued to trade points throughout the set. Digging deep, the Ephs distanced themselves and ultimately took a hard-fought 17-15 victory.

Defensively, O’Day tallied 14 digs with Doll just behind at 11. Adapting to a new role as a defensive specialist, Amanda Schott ’15 chipped in with nine digs for the team. The women’s blocking at the net propelled them to victory, as Williams consistently redirected Trevecca Nazarene’s shots. Catherine Egan ’16 led the team with seven blocks, and Doll was second on the team with five. As a team, the Ephs recorded 12.5 total blocks. Farley also stepped up for Williams, dishing 44 assists to her teammates.

“I was really proud of the way our team fought in every set, especially how they came back from being down 11-6 in the fifth set to get the victory,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “Trevecca Nazarene played some solid volleyball, meaning it was definitely good for us to get a win.”

The women’s second match of Day One against No. 12 ranked Elmhurst saw them both physically and mentally exhausted from the first match. Accordingly, the Ephs fell in straight sets: 25-11, 25-21, 25-16.

Despite the disappointing outcome, Kelsey spoke to many positive aspects of the experience. “I am proud of the strides we made this past weekend both in growing our team chemistry and in continuing to define our competitive approach,” Kelsey said, “We are still learning and getting better each week, but I am proud of the team for their continued investment, optimism and desire to want to improve each and every day.

“Having the opportunity to travel out of region is something that we only get to do once every few years and having the chance to play against some of the best teams in Div. III was a great learning experience for us,” Kelsey continued.

Hopefully the women will be able to turn this learning experience into NESCAC wins as the team heads into a crucial conference match at Middlebury on Wednesday night. Competition will start at 7:30 p.m. The women will then host Bates on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Colby on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Co-captain Haley Eagon ’13 is optimistic about the team’s upcoming schedule: “Playing out of region was a great opportunity to see some different competition, and our team definitely rose to the challenge,” she said. “We’re in a great place heading into our next match this Wednesday.”