Volleyball stumbles at Hall of Fame Invitational

Volleyball (13-10, 6-2 in the NESCAC) had a difficult run at the Hall of Fame Invitational hosted by Mt. Holyoke and Smith last weekend. The women suffered a 3-0 loss on Saturday afternoon to Wellesley, a 3-2 loss to Springfield on Saturday morning and a 3-2 loss to MIT on Friday. Last Wednesday, the women garnered a 3-1 win over Southern Vermont away. The women remain tied with Middlebury and Tufts for third in the NESCAC.

Against Wellesley in last weekend’s invitational, Williams struggled at the outset, going down early. A late service error by the Blue brought the Ephs within three at 23-20, and kills by co-captains Haley Eagon ’13 and Emily Doll ’14 put the score at 24-22. Despite this last minute surge, the Ephs were not able to overcome their inconsistencies from earlier in the set and fell 25-22.

The second set was much more evenly contested. Strong play by Eagon, Doll, Claire Miller ’15 and Raea Rasmussen ’15 allowed the women to gain their first lead of the game. The Blue eventually pulled away to win the set 25-23, despite a late kill by Catherine Egan ’16 that put the Ephs within one.

Opening play of the third set went back and forth until Wellesley pulled away to win the set 25-15, ultimately dropping the Ephs 3-0.

Earlier on Saturday, Williams took on regional rival Springfield. The women came out strong, attaining a 13-8 lead. An ace and a block later in the set by Ryan Farley ’16 and two blocks by Egan helped the Ephs close out the first set strong with a 25-19 win.

Although the women played strong throughout the second set, Springfield closed it out 25-18 in their favor to tie the match at 1-1.

Play in the third set was tight, with the teams battling out of ties all the way up to 24-24. A kill by Egan enabled the Ephs to gain their 25th point, and the final kill by Miller put the Ephs on top 26-24 in the third set.

The fourth set was equally tightly contested. This time, however, the Pride pulled away, and the Ephs dropped the set 25-19.

Strong play by the Pride ended the fifth set 15-10 in their favor, ending the match 3-2 with Springfield on top.

In the first game of the Hall of Fame Invitational on Friday at Mt. Holyoke, Williams faced MIT. The women opened the first set strong and won 25-19. The second set did not play out the same way, and the Ephs dropped the second set 25-17. The third set, ultimately decided by the same score, also saw MIT take an early lead that Williams simply could not recover from.

The women rallied in the fourth set, however, closing out the set with a 25-22 victory. The fifth set decided the match, and MIT pulled ahead early, eventually taking the set 15-10 and the match 3-2. Rasmussen led the team with 10 kills in the match, and Eagon led defensively with eight blocks.

“This past weekend was a good weekend for us in many ways,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “Even though the final results weren’t exactly what we had hoped for, I am proud of the way our team continues to improve and challenge each other to get better with each match. We competed hard and probably played some of our best volleyball yet … especially against MIT and Springfield. The teams we played were some of the best in our region, so it was a great way to really see how we measure up at this point and what we need to work on going forward.”

Last Wednesday, the women took on Southern Vermont. The Mountaineers took the first set 25-22. Williams opened the second set with renewed vigor, pulling away from Southern Vermont on a 14-6 run to win the set by an impressively large margin of 25-13. The Ephs continued to ride this offensive momentum, tallying 59 kills as a team. Williams pulled off a 25-20 victory in the third set. In the fourth and final set of the game, back-to-back aces by Doll gave Williams another 25-20 victory, ending the match 3-1 in the Ephs’ favor.

The women will look to continue their NESCAC success in this final week of the regular season. On Friday, the women will host Tufts at 7 p.m., and on Saturday, they will host Bowdoin, the top team in the conference, at 2 p.m. The women hope to maintain their fifth-place standing in the NESCAC through the weekend to ensure a berth in the playoffs: The top eight teams in the NESCAC qualify for the playoffs.

“This coming week is an exciting one for us and for our conference,” Kelsey said. “It seems almost every year, it comes down to the final regular season weekend to determine where everyone stands. Bowdoin and Tufts are two strong programs and both are going to be great challenges for us. We are looking forward to being in the gym together and preparing for the opportunity ahead.”

NESCAC quarterfinals will begin on Nov. 2 with the semifinals held on Nov. 3 and the championship taking place on Nov. 4.

A late kill from co-captain Emily Doll ’14 was not enough for the women to top Wellesley at the Hall of Fame Invitational on Saturday. – photo COURTESY OF SPORTS INFORMATION

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