Volleyball secures 3 wins at UMass Invite

Volleyball (6-1) went 3-1 on the weekend at the University of Massachusetts at Boston Invitational, collecting two huge victories on Sunday after having gone 1-1 on Saturday.

In their first game of the afternoon on Sunday, the women faced off against Whitman. The Ephs struggled early, barely winning the first set 25-20 and dropping the second 28-26.  In the first, clutch kills from captain Claire Miller ’15, Tori Jasuta ’17, Ryan Farley ’16 and Katherine Lane ’16 ensured an Eph victory. Back-and-forth play in the second set, including the Ephs relinquishing a six-point advantage, allowed the Whitties to take advantage of Eph mistakes and collect a rallying 28-26 second-set victory.

However, after having struggled early on, the women turned it on for the last two sets against Whitman. In the third set, with excellent hits from Anna Spellman ’17, Raea Rassmussen ’15 and Catherine Egan, the Ephs clinched a dominating 25-18 set victory.  With the momentum on their side, the women easily secured the final set 25-15, finalizing the match victory 3-1 against Whitman. Jasuta led all Ephs with 19 kills and three service aces. Libero Amanda Schott ’15 collected 30 digs over the match.

Later that day, the women took on Western Connecticut State. This time, the match came much more easily, with the Ephs dominating the Colonials in a straight three-set match. Williams won the three consecutive sets with scores of 25-16, 26-24 and 25-17. Jasuta once again led the Ephs in kills, totaling 15 over the course of the match. Schott added to her dig total for the tournament, collecting eight more over the course of the three sets. Catie Benell ’17 led all Ephs in service aces with four.

On Saturday, the Ephs started off their UMass Boston Invitational with a match against the Seagulls of Salisbury. With efficient and effective play, the women easily swept Salisbury 25-16, 25-23 and 25-8. Jasuta started off her tournament on a strong note, garnering 13 kills and 13 digs. Schott also collected 13 digs. The Ephs outhit the Seagulls by an impressive .257-to-.035 margin en route to an absolute route.

In the second game on Saturday, the women ran up against a tough opponent, and host of the tournament, UMass Boston.  The last time the two teams met was in the sweet sixteen of the NCAA Div. III Tournament, where the Ephs fell to the Beaconsn last year.

After a hard fought five-set match, the Ephs were ultimately overcome three sets to two, by scores of 25-23, 20-25, 25-20, 18-25 and 12-15. Williams clinched two of the first three sets, with an opportunity to clinch the match in the fourth set. However, after several lead changes and opportunities for the Ephs to clinch, the Beacons rallied and took the fourth set, sending the match to a tiebreak fifth set. Although the women made a strong push at the end of the tiebreak set, UMass Boston would not concede the lead and stole a hard-fought five-set match from Williams. Jasuta continued her strong performance, leading the Ephs in kills with 12, digs with 23 and service aces with three. Rasmussen led the Ephs with two blocks.

“It was tough losing to UMass Boston in five sets, but that game helped us recognize where we need to improve and the kind of mindset we will need to be successful moving forward,” Miller said.

The women will next face off against conference and Little Three rival Wesleyan on Friday at 8 p.m. in Middletown, Conn. On Saturday, the women will face both Trinity and Endicott in Hartford, Conn.

“Everyone is excited for our first NESCAC weekend with games against Wesleyan and Trinity,” Miller said.