Ephs shut down Polar Bears for NESCAC crown

Katherine Lane ’16 had three kills in the women’s NESCAC final where they defeated Bowdoin 3-0 last Sunday. - Photo Courtesy of Sports Information
Katherine Lane ’16 had three kills in the women’s NESCAC final where they defeated Bowdoin 3-0 last Sunday. – Photo Courtesy of Sports Information

Volleyball (25-4, 10-0 in the NESCAC) has been at the top of the NESCAC all season. Last weekend, they maintained this status in the NESCAC tournament. The women solidified their dominance in NESCAC play, and after three hard-fought games, Williams prevailed 3-0 against Bowdoin on Sunday and were crowned the 2013 NESCAC Champions. To reach the NESCAC final, they knocked off Bates in the quarterfinals and Tufts in the semifinals, both in straight sets.

The women went into the weekend as the No. 1 seed, playing Bates in their first match-up in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Friday night. The game went steadily for Williams, as the women continued to do what they do so well: sweep teams 3-0 in straight sets. The Bobcats jumped out to a quick lead in the first set, and uncharacteristically, the Ephs looked nervous and made several errors. However, the women quickly settled down, clawed their way back into the set and came out on top 25-22. The Ephs gained momentum and continued to push their lead, winning the second set by a large margin of 25-16. In the third set, Williams grabbed the lead early on and never looked back. Although Bates called a timeout down 8-1, Williams continued to deliver kills and aces until the set and game concluded with a 25-10 score in the third set. Ryan Farley ’16 had 29 assists, and Tori Jasuta ’17 had 13 kills. Co-captain Emily Doll had 12 kills in the game. Jasuta also contributed 11 digs.

On Saturday, the women geared up to play Tufts in the conference semifinals. The Ephs again swept their opponents aside, winning 3-0. The first set was a little close for comfort, finishing 25-22 with a strong fight between Tufts’ middles and Williams’ pin hitters. The Ephs started the second set shakily, but they began to pull away after achieving a 13-8 edge and finished with an impressive lead of 25-11. Williams completely dominated in the third and final set of the match, winning a blowout 25-8 set.

Jasuta had 17 kills in the match, while Claire Miller ’15 had nine, and Katherine Lane ’16 and Raea Rasmussen ’15 both had four.

“I am incredibly proud for our team’s effort against Tufts,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said after the Tufts game. “[We played] steady, strong, aggressive volleyball from the start. Tufts is a great team, and we are happy to get through semis and have a chance to play in the finals!”

Williams faced Bowdoin on Sunday afternoon to decide the 2013 NESCAC Championship. Once again, the Ephs did not lose a set, walking off the court champions after dismantling the Polar Bears 3-0. The respective set scores, 25-16, 25-15, 25-19, reflect the Ephs’ dominance on the court. Although the third set had the slowest start of the three, the Ephs put forth incredible defensive work, kills and blocks to bring the score to a point away from the championship. As the score hovered at 24-19, the Williams fans in Chandler Gym all rose to their feet and started to cheer. As soon as Jasuta finished the game with a block, pandemonium erupted on the court and in the stands as Williams won the championship. Jasuta tallied an impressive 20 kills on the day, and Farley had 40 assists.

This was the Ephs first conference title since 2009 and their second title under Kelsey. The women now hold the conference record with 10 overall titles. “Words can’t express how proud I am of this group,” Kelsey said. “We put together a tremendous weekend of volleyball, but [last] weekend is really a reflection of the past 10 weeks. This group has been so focused on the process and getting better every day. More importantly, they have completely invested in each other and really lifted our team chemistry to a new level. We are excited for the opportunity to continue into the NCAA tournament and look forward to playing more volleyball together.”

Williams advances to the first round of the Div. III NCAA championship on Friday and will host three-time New England Collegiate Conference champion Southern Vermont. On Oct. 15, the Ephs beat the Mountaineers 3-0 and will look to do the same in their upcoming matchup. The winner will face off against the winner of the Springfield and Baruch matchup.