The 2012 Williams College Eph volleyball team hopes to take the lessons it learned as a young squad during the 2011 season and turn those experiences into opportunities for the 2012 season ahead.
The Ephs return all but one starter, including nine letter winners from the 2011 team that finished 16-13/5-5 NESCAC. This fall the Ephs add four new faces into the mix as well as a veteran senior who returns to the squad after taking a year off to study abroad.
Head coach Christi Kelsey, entering her fourth season, is optimistic about her Eph team and the upcoming season. "Last year was definitely a learning and growing experience for our team on many levels," Kelsey notes. "Our youth provided us with an opportunity to reshape and refocus our mindset as a program. I'm incredibly proud of our returning players for really embracing these new challenges and raising their level of preparation for this coming season. There are no guarantees of success, but we emphasize training and preparing each day to put our team in the best possible position to compete and I think we've definitely done that. Time will tell as the season begins, but I know this group is eager to raise the expectations of our program in 2012."
This 2012 schedule will test the Ephs within NESCAC, regionally, and nationally. The Ephs will square off against some of the New England region's best programs when they open their season at the Endicott Invitational and later play in the annual Hall of Fame Tournament in mid-October. The Ephs will also travel out of region to Atlanta to participate in the Emory Invitational in mid-September.
Kelsey had one goal in mind when creating the 2012 schedule: to challenge the team every weekend from start to finish. "We have no easy weekends this year and I think this group is ready for both the mental and physical challenge of such a demanding schedule," she states. "With the depth of our conference and playing in a strong region, we have the opportunity to play tremendous teams each weekend to really test ourselves and see where we might stack up."
|The Ephs talk it over|
"Traveling out of region to Emory is going to be an exciting challenge for us as well," added Kelsey. "Emory is consistently one of the best national programs in Division III and for us to compete against them and other teams from regions across the country that we don't normally see is going to be a great experience."
In conference play, the NESCAC looks as strong as ever across the board. Bowdoin looks to defend its 2011 title after completing an undefeated regular season schedule and then capped it off by winning the NESCAC Tournament, earning the conference's NCAA automatic bid. Joining the Polar Bears and the Ephs in the quest for the NESCAC title are all of the other nine teams in the conference including two other NCAA qualifiers from last season, Tufts and Middlebury. Regular season play in NESCAC will determine which eight teams advance to the 2012 NESCAC Tournament, where realistically any one of the eight quarterfinalists could emerge as the champion. Kelsey comments, "I think it says a lot about our conference teams and their respective players and coaches to have so much depth and competitiveness each year. It's always exciting to see how the NESCAC regular season plays out. Then for the eight teams that make it to the conference tournament there really is the opportunity for each team to win."
This fall the NESCAC regular season schedule will take on a new look as teams either play at a home or an away venue, eliminating neutral site NESCAC matches. Kelsey notes, "NESCAC weekends are always highly competitive but now we are adding in this element that there will always be a team playing in front of a home crowd. I think it's a great opportunity for our student-athletes to see a whole new competitive atmosphere around our matches in terms of school spirit and support for the teams."
Even with the new challenges and changes, Kelsey hopes to have her team prepared with the right mindset from the outset of preseason. "We want to adopt the attitude of playing in the moment and embracing the opportunity in front of us each and every day," says Kelsey. "Whether it's pushing each other in practice or battling it out with our opponents on game day, we want to keep our team focused on getting better each time we are together on and off the court."
|Emily Doll '14|
The nine returning Ephs include: seniors Haley Eagon (OH/MB, Roseville, MN) and Lauren Agoubi (DS/LIB, San Antonio, TX); juniors Emily Doll (MB, Villa Park, CA) and Emily Baratta (OH, San Diego, CA); and sophomores Claire Miller (OH, Wilmette, IL), Emily O'Day (OPP/DS, Los Angeles, CA), Callie Kiernan (MB, Pelham, NY), Raea Rasmussen (OH/OPP, Amsterdam, Netherlands), and Amanda Schott (S, Niskayuna, NY).
Kelsey notes, "This is a tremendous core group of returners for our program. Each of these players has shown a lot of commitment and dedication in their preparations during the off-season and all will play a valuable and important role in charting the course for how our team progresses in the months ahead."
Senior Mika Nakashige (DS/LIB, Honolulu, HI) returns after taking a year off to study abroad. "Mika's return is great for our program," Kelsey said. "She is an extremely hard worker and has an unquestionable team-first approach in all she does. Her experience and competitive spirit are going to only help strengthen our team."
Rounding out the Eph roster will be four newcomers. The class of 2016 includes: Ryan Farley (S, La Jolla, CA); Catherine Egan (MB, New York, NY), Katherine Lane (MB, La Jolla, CA), and Tayler Donze (DS, Virginia). Kelsey says, "Ryan, Catherine, Tayler, and Katherine comprise an amazing group of first-year student-athletes to welcome as part of our program. We are excited to officially have them join us on campus both as students and as athletes. This is a very talented group but more importantly they are a group of people who are going to embody what our program and Williams College is all about. I am very much looking forward to having them at Williams for the next four years."
The Ephs begin their 2012 campaign at the Endicott Invitational on September 7 and 8. Williams is scheduled to play Susquehanna, Plymouth State, UMASS-Boston, and host Endicott.