Amherst, Mass.-- Looking to build off their success of the previous evening in grabing a tough conference win at Trinity, Volleyball traveled north to take on archrival Amherst in a conference match that also effectively served as the Little Three championship match. With both squads having already defeated Wesleyan it was winner take all for the coveted prize. Despite jumping out to an early one set lead Williams was unable to hold on to defeat the Jeffs, as Amherst bounced back to capture three consecutive sets for a 3-1 (21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-18) victory.
The Ephs started strong out of the gate, grabbing a 3-0 lead with three consecutive kills. Amherst responded, however, with a 5-0 run to go up 5-3 before the Ephs could dig in and side out. With Amherst up 7-5 a block by senior co-captain Haley Eagon lowered the deficit to one at 6-7. A kill by first year middle hitter Katherine Lane tied things up at 10-10 while a kill by junior co-captain gave the Ephs the lead at 12-11. Another kill by Lane pushed the lead to two up 13-11. Amherst, however, fought back into the match, going up 14-13. With the Jeffs up 17-15 and threatening to expand their lead Williams would claw their way back into the set, tying the score at 17-17. Three aces in a row by first year setter Ryan Farley gave the Ephs a hard fought lead up 20-17, prompting an Amherst timeout. A monster kill by Doll pushed the lead to four up 22-18, requiring a second time out by the Jeffs. Amherst would pull a point back following the time out but another block by Eagon made it 23-19. A kill by sophomore Raea Rasmussen brought up set point for the Ephs at 24-19. Williams would efficiently close out the set 25-21.
Looking to build on their momentum in the second set, Williams would struggle to reassert an advantage against a reinvigorated Amherst squad. Sensing that the ultimate outcome of the match hung in this second set, the Jeffs took a 6-1 lead, necessitating a Williams time out. While the Ephs stopped the run at 2-7 following the time out, Amherst used a 3-1 run to increase the lead to seven points up 10-3. Back to back kills by Doll sparked a Williams rally to 7-10, while Farley served the Ephs to within two down 8-10. The Ephs tied the score at 12-12 behind the serve of sophomore defensive specialist Amanda Schott, although Amherst used a short 3-1 run to get back in front 15-13. Sophomore libero Emily O'Day served the Ephs to 16-17, down only one point, but a 4-0 run by Amherst pushed the lead back up to 20-16 before a kill by sophomore Claire Miller ended the run. Another 5-0 run by the Jeffs, however, ended it 25-17.
In the third set Amherst once again jumped out to an early lead up 5-0, prompting a Williams timeout. The Ephs got the side out coming out of the break, and an ace by Doll made it 2-6. Another kill by Doll stopped an Amherst run down 3-9, while block by Lane made it 4-9. A 6-2 run by Amherst, however, seemed to break Williams' resolve, as the Jeffs took a 15-6 lead. With Miller at the line, though, the Ephs began to cut into the deficit. An ace by Miller made it 10-16, requiring a time out by Amherst. A double block by Lane and Rasmussen closed the gap to three down 14-17, which a Rasmussen maintained with a kill at 15-18. A kill by Lane made it 16-18 as Williams tried to find a way back into the match. Another kill by Rasmussen made it 17-19 as the Ephs and Jeffs traded punches back and forth. An ace by O'Day made it 18-19, although Amherst again jumped out to a three point lead up 21-18 before a Lane block stopped the run. A block by first year Catherine Egan narrowed the gap to a single point again down 20-21, and with the score tied at 21-21 Amherst tied their second timeout. The Jeffs got the side out they were looking for, going up 22-21, although a Cegan kill tied it up again at 22-22. A late two point burst by Amherst, however, made it 24-22, backing the Ephs into a tight corner. While a kill by Doll made it 23-24, Amherst would narrowly take the set 25-23.
Williams still had an opportunity to get back into the match in the fourth set. They started things off right with a kill by Rasmussen, eventually taking a 3-2 lead following a block by Rasmussen. Amherst responded, however, taking a 4-3 lead. The Jeffs battled hard to take an 8-5 lead, which they in turn expanded out to 10-6. A kill by Rasmussen momentarily narrowed the gap to 7-10, although another push by Amherst to 12-7 caused Williams to use a time out. The stoppage did little to blunt Amherst's momentum, as they used a 5-0 run to blow the set wide open up 17-7. A kill by Doll and a block by Rasmussen made it 9-17. A tortuously long rally that was eventually ended by a Rasmussen kill showed the Ephs still had some fight left in them, as they brought the lead under double digits at 10-18. Amherst, though, could seemingly sense the victory, taking another double digit lead before a kill by Egan made it 12-21. With junior Emily Baratta at the service line Williams launched another desperate rally, trying to gain back valuable ground. A block by Cegan made it 16-22 prompting an Amherst time out. By this point, however, Williams had let the lead grow too large with too little time left to come back. After the time out Amherst broke the Williams serve and finished off the Ephs 25-18.
Statistically Williams matched up fairly well against their opponents, outdigging and outblocking the Jeffs. Emily O'Day played well defensively for the Ephs, tallying 19 digs, while Katherine Lane would lead the team with 4 blocks. Emily Doll and Raea Rasmussen tied for the team lead with 11 kills apiece, although as a team Williams hit only .200, with seven fewer kills than Amherst. While Williams played well at times, they struggled to contain long runs by the Jeffs, who gained valuable momentum and confidence as the match ran longer. With the win Amherst is now 10-5 on the year (5-3 in NESCAC) while Williams falls to 12-7 (6-2 in NESCAC). The Ephs will look to bounce back as they travel up to Southern Vermont on Wednesday evening.