Williamstown, MA-- In the second of two home matches this weekend Williams volleyball rode a strong all around offensive output to defeat conference foe Colby in straight sets 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-8). The Ephs threw down 40 kills in the match to move to 4-1 in conference play and 9-5 overall on the season. Colby meanwhile falls to 1-2 in the NESCAC and 7-4 overall.
Williams set the pace early in the first set, taking a 4-0 lead behind kills by junior outside hitter Emily Baratta and her classmate, co-captain Emily Doll. The Mules, however, came to play, tying the set at 5-5. The Ephs were able to regain a slight advantage up 8-7, although a 5-0 run by Colby allowed them to flip the score and gain a four point lead, 12-8. Following a Williams time out Colby was able to maintain their lead, up 16-11 and 19-14. A huge block by first year middle hitter Catherine Egan narrowed the gap to 21-19, and she then slammed down a kill with authority to make it 21-20. First year setter Ryan Farley would serve the Ephs even at 22-22, prompting a Colby timeout, but it was to no avail as Doll put down a kill of her own to make it 23-22. Colby would not score again as Williams took the set victory 25-22.
In the second set it was Colby who jumped out to the early lead, shaking off the side effects of giving up the lead in the previous set. The Ephs would respond, though, tying the score at 6-6. The set would still be tied at 10-10, with neither team able to definitively pull away. Sophomore defensive specialist Amanda Schott served Williams up 12-10 for a slight lead. A kill by Doll made it 14-13, while another by first year middle hitter Katherine Lane made it 15-14. Neither team was able to open up a back breaking lead. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller made it 18-17, although it would be Schott who stepped back to the line to put the game to rest, serving an ace to make it 21-18. Trying to dig in Colby called a timeout seeking to break the Ephs' momentum, although a kill by Lane would give Williams a set point up 24-21. Although the Mules would side out, they were unable to launch a comeback bid, falling 22-25.
Going into the third set the outcome of the match was still somewhat in doubt, as Colby had proven that they could play up to the level of the Ephs through the first two sets. The score was tight early in the third set as both teams went back and forth before Lane began to firmly put her stamp on the match. In a string of three points she was able to break the game wide open with a block, kill and a second block to open up a three point lead at 7-4. An ace by senior defensive specialist Mika Nakashige stretched the lead to five points up 10-5, while another ace by Emily Baratta made it 13-6. An incredible 10-1 run for Williams made it 23-7 as they cruised to the set victory 25-8.
Despite starting somewhat slow in the first set (three kills, one error, five attempts), first year Katherine Lane would turn in her best performance in a Williams uniform so far in her young career, leading all hitters with an eventual 12 kills in 18 attempts with only 2 errors for a hitting average of .555. Lane would also lead the team with seven blocks, easily a career high. Claire Miller, swinging at the outside hitter position, would also have a strong match with 11 kills in 23 attempts with only 3 errors (.348). As a team the Ephs would hit .257 in the match. Williams was able to improve on their strong blocking performance the night before against Bates, rejecting the Colby offense to the tune of 12.5 total blocks. Behind Lane's team leading seven blocks classmates Catherine Egan and Ryan Farley would both have four blocks apiece. Farley filled up the stat sheet, registering 37 assists from her setter position while also leading the team with three aces. The strong blocking performance from the Ephs meant that few balls escaped into the Williams half of the court but Mika Nakashige, despite only playing one set, would register 8 digs, tied with sophomore libero Emily O'Day for the team lead.
The importance of gaining yet another conference win against a solid opponent is difficult to overstate in a year in which no undefeated teams remain in the NESCAC, despite it only being the second conference weekend. The Ephs are tied with Middlebury at the top of the NESCAC standings with a record of 4-1.
With the overall level of play in the conference rising, every conference match and win gains substance, as a single loss can have tremendous implications for the seedings in the conference tournament. The Ephs will now look to a new challenge in taking on Union College in a midweek match on Tuesday before traveling to Hamilton for their next conference match on October 5.