Volleyball overpowers Tufts en route to NESCACs

Now officially on its way to the NESCAC tournament, volleyball (14-11, 7-3 in the NESCAC) had its final regular season matches last weekend. The women beat Tufts in four sets on Friday night, but couldn’t repeat their home court success against nationally-ranked Bowdoin on Saturday.

Although Williams jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, the women could not sustain their scoring streak against Bowdoin: The Polar Bears quickly stole a four-point lead. Williams called a time out, hoping to kickstart a change in momentum. Using the break effectively, Claire Miller ’15 made a quick kill to bring the Ephs back within three points. However, Bowdoin continued to dominate the set from there, and the women eventually fell 25-13, leading to a one-set deficit.

The second set proved much tighter, as the Ephs grabbed a 3-0 lead. Bowdoin again battled back to tie things up at 4-4. Williams dominated play for the next few points, putting the team up 11-8 after a dump by Ryan Farley ’16. However, Bowdoin proved resilient: The Polar Bears quickly tied play up at 11-11. Despite a kill by Catherine Egan ’16, Bowdoin continued to widen its lead with a 7-0 run. Williams attempted to make a comeback with a late ace from Callie Kiernan ’15, but Bowdoin closed out the set on top, slamming down the final point to take the set 25-17 for a two-set advantage.

The Polar Bears continued to dominate play going into the third and final set. Williams clawed its way within one before Bowdoin opened up the throttle to grab a 13-6 lead. Farley and Egan brought the Ephs within three points with a kill and block, respectively. However, Bowdoin then stifled Williams’ comeback, going on yet another run to take a 20-12 lead. Back-to-back kills by Katherine Lane ’16 put Williams back in the game briefly, but the Ephs could not capitalize. Bowdoin took the set 25-22 and the match 3-0.

Friday night’s match started with a celebration of this year’s seniors: Lauren Agoubi ’13, Mika Nakashige ’13 and co-captain Haley Eagon ’13. In total, this year’s seniors have racked up 70 career wins, a NESCAC championship and an NCAA Sweet Sixteen run over the past four years.

The women pulled through on senior night, putting Tufts down in four sets. It seemed that Tufts would dominate the first set, as the Jumbos started the match off by going up 6-3 before eventually extending their lead to 14-8. Amanda Schott ’15 brought Williams within four at 16-12. After a kill by Miller, Williams was on a roll. Co-captain Emily Doll ’14 finally gave the Ephs the lead with a kill, and from there, the two teams battled for a victory in the set. Williams ultimately came out on top, winning 25-21.

The second set went more smoothly, as Williams took a commanding 12-6 lead before Tufts could respond. The Eph attack was lead in part by Raea Rasmussen ’15, who notched 11 kills over the course of the match. The Jumbos had no answer for the Ephs’ tough offense and the pressure from tough serving by Emily O’Day ’15. Miller finally ended the set for the women, claiming a resounding 25-13 victory.

The Jumbos made things interesting in the third set, capitalizing on a late run to surpass the Ephs. Despite close play for most of the set, Tufts went up 19-15 before Miller could end the run. The Jumbos kept hold of the lead for the rest of the match, eventually winning 25-18.

A single block decided Williams’ fate in the fourth set. The score was tight throughout the set, and it was unclear who would come out on top.  With Williams and Tufts tied at 24-24, Miller made a clutch kill to put the Ephs within one point of victory. It was Eagon who finally closed out the game for the Ephs, making a huge block for the last point. The senior’s final play gave Williams the 3-1 match victory.

Following this week’s success, the women are focused on preparing for the upcoming NESCAC tournament. “We are excited to have the opportunity to play this coming weekend in the NESCAC tournament,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “Any one of the eight teams can make a run at this point in the year, so it should be a fun, competitive weekend.

“I am really proud of our team and like how we are playing as we head into the tournament. I thought we played some of our best volleyball of the season so far in our match against Tufts last Friday night and we hope to be able to build momentum off of that type of play for the weekend ahead,” she continued.

Williams will take on Amherst in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Friday at Conn. College. Play will start at 8 p.m.

The result of Friday’s match will determine who advances to Saturday’s semifinals. The championship match will be held at noon on Sunday.