Williamstown, MA-- Facing off against New York regional foe SUNY New Paltz in a home midweek match, Volleyball dropped a tough 3-1 (25-18, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16) match to the visitors. The loss was made all the more frustrating by the manner in which the Ephs conceded victory to their opponents. Williams had a higher hitting percentage, despite having a drastically fewer number of kills (38 for the Ephs versus 53 for the Hawks), registered only three fewer digs (63-60) and decisively outblocked their opponents nine to two. Ultimately unforced errors, such as twenty combined serving, receive and ball handling errors for Williams, as opposed to ten for their opponents, would prove the difference in the match. With the loss Williams drops to 11-6 on the year while SUNY New Paltz improves to 22-3.
In the first set back to back blocks by junior outside hitter Emily Baratta and senior middle hitter Haley Eagon gave the Ephs an early lead up 3-1. Having set the tone, however, Williams conspired to give it right back to the Hawks. New Paltz would tie the score at 5-5, and although neither team was immediately able to grab a decisive lead it would be the Hawks who jumped in front up 14-10. New Paltz was able to increase their lead in a 4-1 run as the Williams block disappeared in front of them. The Hawks were able to hit off the Ephs seemingly at will in running out to an 18-11 lead, prompting a Williams timeout. First year middle hitter Catherine Egan was able to respond with a block out of the timeout to make it 12-18, and the Ephs began to slowly chip away at the lead. An ace by Baratta made it 15-20 and a kill by Egan closed the gap to 16-20. That would be as close as Williams would get, however as New Paltz pushed the lead back out to five points up 23-18 and closed out the set 25-18.
Sophomore setter Amanda Schott opened the second set on a high note for the Ephs, serving the team up 4-0. New Paltz quickly rallied, however, with a 5-0 run of their own to make it 5-4. A push by Williams made it 7-5, punctuated by a kill from sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller. The Hawks would take their turn in responding, though, going up 11-9 before using a 4-1 run to make it 15-10. Two more kills by Miller made it 12-16 and a block by junior right side Emily Doll closed the gap to two down 14-16. Williams got as close as 16-17 before New Paltz put their foot on the gas and drove the lead out to four points again up 20-16, prompting a Williams time out. A serving error by the Hawks gave the Ephs the ball back down 18-23, although Williams was unable to fight back into things, dropping the set 18-25.
The third set was also a back and forth affair, with Williams up 3-1 before New Paltz flipped the score up 7-5. With the Hawks up 9-6 a 3-0 serving run by Schott tied things up at 9-9, while a kill by Doll gave the Ephs the slight lead up 10-9. Williams was up by two at 13-11, and a pushed it to 14-12 on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Raea Rasmussen. A huge solo block by Rasmussen pushed the lead to 15-12 while a kill by Doll kept the three point lead at 16-13. While New Paltz tried to find a way back into the set Williams began to pick up steam, pushing the lead to four points up 18-14. A block by Schott gave the Ephs a five point lead up 20-15, which they would maintain at 23-18 before emphatically capturing the final two points of the set to close out the victory 25-18.
Entering into the fourth set the outcome of the match was still very much in doubt, although New Paltz would quickly shut the door on any hopes of a comeback. The Hawks went up early 4-2, creeping the lead out to four points up 7-3. Williams finally stopped the bleeding when they were down by five at 4-9. Back to back kills by Miller closed the gap back down to two points down 8-10, a margin which an Egan block would maintain down 9-11. Another kill by Miller closed the gap even further down 10-11. Buckling down New Paltz used a 5-1 run to make it 16-11. A kill by Doll momentarily gave a glimmer of hope for Williams, although it was quickly stamped out by the Hawks who maintained their five point lead at 18-13. A 7-3 run by New Paltz closed things out for good, handing them the set and match victory 25-16.
Despite totaling nine total team blocks on the evening, Williams shaould have had a lot more given their height and athleticism. The Williams back court defense valiantly tried to keep the team in it, as sophomore libero Emily O'Day (17 digs) and classmate Miller (13 digs) sought to fill the holes left by their blockers at the net. The Eph offense, however, sputtered all night, totaling only 38 kills on the evening (9.5 per set) as opposed to 53 for their opponents (13.25 per set). Miller would lead the team with 11 kills while Doll would be close behind with 10. Sophomore Amanda Schott had 32 assists for Williams as she worked hard to facilitate the offense.
The Ephs will now look to rebound with two crucial conference matches this weekend against Trinity and archrival Amherst. The Bantams have already notched a big conference win over Tufts this season, while a win over Amherst would give Williams their first outright Little Three championship since 2006.