Middletown, CT-- Coming off of an emphatic conference win over Connecticut College on Friday evening the Eph volleyball team traveled north from New London, CT to take on Wesleyan University in their second conference match of the young season.
The host Cardinals, having pushed 2010 conference champion and 2011 conference runner-up Middlebury nearly to the brink in three hard fought sets the night before, consistently represent a classic trap game for teams unready for their unpredictable and unique style. Williams would not be undone, however, either by their opponents or their own miscues in leaving the state of Connecticut with another deserved win in straight sets 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-23). With the win the Ephs move to 5-1 on the year (2-0 in NESCAC) and are one of only three remaining undefeated teams in NESCAC play. Wesleyan drops to 3-2 on the year (0-2 in NESCAC).
In the first set it looked initially as if Williams was still celebrating its victory the previous evening, as they got aced three times in the first nine points, leading to a 6-3 Wesleyan lead. The Cardinals pushed their lead to five points at 12-7 before the Ephs were finally able to settle in, tying the score finally at 14-14.
An ace by first year setter Ryan Farley gave Williams their first lead of the match at 15-14, followed by a serving run by sophomore Claire Miller, who brought Williams to 22-16. This gap proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for the Cardinals, who ceded a 25-17 victory to the Ephs. The Ephs were lead by an extremely impressive offensive performance by first year middle hitter Catherine Egan, who slammed home an astounding 5 kills in seven attempts in the first set alone. Egan would finish the match with 6 kills in 9 attempts with no errors (.666 attack average), playing only the first two sets for the Ephs.
In set two Williams jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead, with a tough serving run by sophomore Amanda Schott increasing the lead to five, 9-4. Williams stood strong at the net to help prolong their runs. A block by first year Katherine Lane made it 15-6 Williams, while another by Egan made it 19-13. Despite an attempt at a rally, the deficit proved to much to close for the Cardinals as they succumbed 25-15.
In set three Wesleyan emphatically demonstrated that they were not going to go down without a fight, grabbing slender leads at 7-6. 10-9 and 12-11. With Wesleyan up 16-15 a block by junior co-captain Emily Doll knotted the score at 16. The Cardinals would carve out a two point lead at 20-18, necessitating a Williams timeout. A block by Lane and a kill by Miller, however, tied the score at 20, requiring a Wesleyan timeout. An ace by sophomore libero Emily O'Day gave the Ephs a short lived one point cushion at 21-20, although Wesleyan would tie the game at 23-23. Williams was able to outwork their opponents through the final two points to finish the set, and the match, 25-23.
The Ephs were able to drastically increase their offensive output over the previous evening, hitting over .200 in the match, a nearly 50-point increase over their percentage against Conn College. Emily Doll would lead all hitters in kills with 8, while Egan and sophomore Raea Rasmussen would tie for second on the team with six apiece. Doll also tied for the team lead in blocks with Katherine Lane, both rejecting three Wesleyan attacks straight to the floor.
Setter Ryan Farley continued her string of steady performances by tallying 28 assists, while also contributing three aces from the serving line. Sophomore Amanda Schott would equal Farley's ace total with three of her own, while also chipping in with 5 digs (second on the team to O'Day's seven).
Overall Williams has much to be proud of in the way they stayed calm in the face of adversity against the Cardinals, fighting hard to drive their own pace against the Wesleyan offense. The Ephs will now return home to a short week of practice before traveling out of region to national powerhouse Emory University in Atlanta to take on two nationally ranked teams in the hosts as well as Elmhurst College (IL). The Ephs will also play Maryville University and another team that has yet to be determined.