Volleyball places second in NESCAC, secures NCAA bid

November 11, 2015 by Eva Fourakis, Sports Editor

Volleyball (18-10, 8-2 in the NESCAC) fell to Bowdoin in the NESCAC Championship on Sunday, 3-2, after powering past Colby and Amherst on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

With Bowdoin hosting the NESCAC tournament, the weekend began on Friday afternoon in Brunswick, Maine. The No. 2 women faced off against No. 7 Colby in the quarterfinal match on Friday night. 

The Ephs found themselves trailing in the first set after multiple attack errors. At 10-6, Shelby Fisher ’18 got a kill in the middle. Tori Jasuta ’17 powered the ball across the net from the outside for the following point. The Ephs had trouble gaining confidence at the net with big blocks and strong outside kills from the Mules.

At 19-11, Morgan Richman ’19 entered to serve. Colby had many attack attempts, including many successful tips at the net that switched up the speed. At 20-14, tri-captain Catherine Egan ’16 got a kill. Tri-captain Ryan Farley ’16 earned a much needed service ace at 24-17. However, Colby took the first set 25-18 after an attack error by the women at match point.

Colby began the second set with a 6-0 run. However, the Ephs fought back with kills by tri-captain Katherine Lane ’16, Aly Ostrow ’19 and Roxi Corbeil ’19. With strong defense, the Ephs regained the lead at 7-8 after a kill by Ostrow and an assist from Farley. At 19-13, after a controlled dig by Ostrow and an assist from Caitie Benell ’17, Jasuta smacked down a kill from the outside. The Ephs clinched the second set 25-17 and then used this momentum to power through and also take the third set 25-18.

The fourth set began with a 4-0 run by the Ephs that included two kills from Jasuta. At 6-3, Jasuta got a service ace. Down 13-9, Colby called a timeout. Back on the court, both teams had skilled attacks from their hitters. Up 22-16, Farley got a kill. Williams won the match 25-16 with a service ace from Egan at match point.

On Saturday, Williams faced off against archrival Amherst in the NESCAC semifinals. The first set began with the Ephs trailing after multiple attack errors in the form of hits that went out of bounds. However, they brought the score back close to even, and the teams spent the rest of the set attacking back and forth. Jasuta ultimately brought Williams to match point after converting a dig to a kill. Williams took the set 25-22 after a poor set from Amherst.

The second set began with Williams continuing to bring energy and determination. The set moved quickly and Amherst called a timeout down 23-21. After the timeout, Amherst regained the lead at 24-23. Williams then called a timeout with Amherst at match point, after scrappy digs from both teams. Williams tied things up at 25-25 after a kill by Ostrow. The teams continued to tie, exchanging leads and ultimately working their way to 31-31. The Jeffs stole the set 34-32 after set point saw an attack error by the Ephs after the attack failed to clear the net. The second set had four lead changes and 14 ties total.

Amherst triumphed in the third set 25-21 and the women were the victors of the fourth set 25-21 to force a decisive fifth set. The fifth set began with both teams responding with critical defense and aggressive hitting. Both teams tied at 15-15. Williams took the lead after a block by Ostrow. Williams won the match 17-15 after a match-point block by Fisher, as Williams edged past Amherst in a grueling five-set battle.

The women fell to conference foe Bowdoin in the NESCAC Championship on Sunday 3-2, after having an early two-set lead. The first set began with a 2-0 lead for Bowdoin. Williams pushed back and brought the score to 8-4 with a kill by Ostrow from the outside. Up 12-7, Jasuta earned a cross-court kill from the outside. Bowdoin responded and soon brought its deficit to within one at 15-14 after a bad set by the women. Up 21-17, Egan got a service ace. The Ephs hit consistently and played a confident set to take the set 25-20.

At the start of the second set, Bowdoin took a 3-1 lead after a bad set by the Ephs. However, Williams fought back and settled the score.  After working hard but still trailing, Bowdoin managed to bring the score to within one at 18-17. Up 20-17, Benell had a service ace. The Ephs pushed through to 25 to take the second set 25-19. The third set began with Bowdoin showing more energy than ever as a Williams win would put an end to the tournament. Up 4-2, Lane had a sharp kill from the middle. Tied at 6-6, Bowdoin had a service ace. Up 8-6, Farley had a kill with an assist from Jasuta. Tied at 9-9, Jasuta got a kill from the outside. Bowdoin regained the lead after multiple kills to set the score at 15-12. The Ephs pushed back to tie at 15-15 after a kill by Benell.

At 19-17, the Ephs held onto the lead with a kill by Ostrow from the outside. Bowdoin continued to work hard and took back the lead at 21-19. The teams soon tied at 21-21. Bowdoin earned the edge after critical kills and won the set 25-22. Set point was a booming block from Bowdoin on the right pin. The third set had five lead changes and eight ties to make it a competitive, nail-biting match.

Bowdoin went on a 3-0 run to begin the fourth set. Bowdoin took the biggest lead in a set of the match at 18-12 after an attack error by Williams. After consistent digs from Ostrow and kills by Jasuta, Williams narrowed the gap. After a tip by Jasuta, the Ephs were within two of the lead at 19-17. After being down by six points, Williams tied the score at 19-19. Williams worked hard to keep the ball in play to tie the score again at 20-20 but Bowdoin took the match at 25-23, forcing a fifth set.

In the fifth set, Williams took an early 2-1 lead. This lead was the first time the Ephs had led since they were up 19-18 in the third set of the match. Bowdoin was back up 7-5 after some strong attacks at the net. Bowdoin was leading at the side change up 8-5. Bowdoin had a big block to set the score at 10-5. Jasuta fired back with a much-needed kill at 11-6. However, Bowdoin remained confident at match point and clinched the set 15-7, taking the NESCAC Championship.

“Battling with Amherst to earn a place in the cephsports.williamhampionship game was certainly a highlight of the weekend,” Egan said. “It was a heartbreaking loss, but we are unbelievably excited to have recieved an at large bid for the NCAA Tournament and can’t wait for the week ahead.”

The women received an at-large berth to the NCAA Div. III Tournament and will play Ithaca College in Potsdam, N.Y., on Friday.

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