Volleyball (10–8, 5–3 in NESCAC) had a Saturday match against Middlebury that ended in a defeat in four sets (21–25, 25–18, 20–25, 20–25) and a victory at Hamilton on Friday night (25–21, 25–22, 29–31, 25–17).
The first set on Saturday began with contentious net play by both teams. Up by two at 10–8, co-captain Tori Jasuta ’17 got a kill with the assist by setter Alex Newton ’20. Williams kept up its lead at 13–11 with a kill by Ally Ostrow ’19. Williams extended its lead to 16–13 before Middlebury responded to charge back to a 16–16 tie.
At 17–17, Ostrow had a kill from the outside with an assist by Newton, but this wasn’t enough to stop Middlebury, which won the first set 21–25.
The Ephs fought back to win the second set 25–18. In the crucial third set, Daiana Takashima ’20 entered to serve down 2–1. After a lengthy point, Middlebury got an outside kill to lead 3–1. Williams remained aggressive with strong blocks on the Panthers hitters, allowing the women to cut the deficit to 9–8 in hopes of regaining the lead. Down 10–9, co-captain Catie Benell ’17 served and after a long rally, the Ephs tied things up at 10–10.
The tie, however, didn’t last long. The Panthers continued to find holes in the Eph defense to build their lead to 18–12. Jasuta had a strong drive to answer for the Ephs to make it 18–13, and Newton had a strong float serve at 19–15 that Middlebury used for a kill to maintain their lead. Jasuta earned a service ace and followed with another point to make it 20–18 but a Middlebury outside kill put Williams down by three. Middlebury won the third set 25–20.
Leading two sets to one, the Panthers went into the fourth set hoping to maintain their lead, and did so, earning the final set victory 25–20 after a tricky tip. The Ephs won the second set but lost the match to Middlebury with the set score: 21–25, 25–18, 20–25, 20–25.
On Friday, Williams came into the match on a five-game win streak in which the team had only lost four sets.
Friday’s first set began with both teams excited for a NESCAC battle. Hamilton quickly extended its lead to 12–6 after aggressive hitting. At 13–9, Ostrow had a kill by hitting an off-tempo attack to the center of the court. To follow up, Roxi Corbeil ’19 and Morgan Richman ’19 teamed up for a double block and narrowed the deficit to three.
Jasuta got a service ace to set the score at 13–11. Hamilton then called a timeout.
Williams continued to hit confidently to win the first set 25–21. Ostrow had five kills total in the first set, Jasuta also added five kills. Newton had 13 assists and Benell had 15 digs.
While Hamilton was hoping to go to five sets, Williams was hoping to push to win the match with a critical fourth set victory. The Ephs took the tense fourth set to win the match by a score of 25–17.
“I continue to be proud of the improvement our team makes each day,” Head Coach Christi Kelsey said. “Our match this past Friday was a great opportunity for us to earn our fifth conference win for the year against a solid Hamilton team. Saturday was a tough match up against Middlebury. They played strong and solid from start to finish and for us we put together some stretches of really great volleyball but were a bit more inconsistent from point to point. Overall, I think our team continues to grow and learn and are hungry to continue to get better.”
The Ephs’ next match is against MIT and is part of the New England Challenge. The match will take place on Friday.