South Hadley, Mass.-- Opening an important weekend of play at the Hall of Fame Invitational, co-hosted by Mt. Holyoke and Smith colleges, Williamsl dropped a grueling 5-set match to MIT (25-19, 17-25, 17-25, 25-22, 10-15). While the Ephs were able to seemingly assert their dominance at will against the Engineers for large stretches of the match, MIT's steady, consistent play won out in the long haul against the short burst enthusiasm displayed by Williams. With the win the Engineers move to 25-3 on the year, while the Ephs fall to 13-8.
In the first set Williams came out on fire. Back to back stuff blocks by Emily Doll and Haley Eagon gave the Ephs a 5-2 lead. A kill by Eagon pushed the lead to 6-4 while a kill by sophomore outside hitter Raea Rasmussen kept the lead up at 7-4. An ace by sophomore Emily O'Day run the lead up again at 8-4 a Williams was executing strongly in all aspects of the game. A kill by first year setter Ryan Farley made it 10-6, and a block by Farley and classmate Catherine Egan brought the lead to five points up 11-6.
Sensing the set slipping away MIT called a timeout, getting the ball back with a quick side out following the break. Down 16-11 the Engineers tried to rally once again, although to no avail, down 13-18. A Rasmussen kill put the Ephs up by six at 19-13. A huge dig by sophomore Amanda Schott kept the next play alive so Rasmussen could throw down another kill to make it 20-13. MIT clawed three points back to 16-20 before a service error stopped their run. An ace by Doll allowed Williams to creep closer, and necessitating a second timeout by the Engineers. MIT could not shift the momentum however as a kill by Doll gave the Ephs a set point. While MIT would get the ball back one last time they served out to end the set 19-25.
Despite having all the momentum going into the second set Williams came out flat, letting MIT waltz out to a 4-0 lead. The Ephs would close the gap down 5-3, although a 4-1 run by the Engineers gave them an even larger cushion up 9-4. Coach Christi Kelsey called a timeout for Williams, hoping to stop the run, but MIT, gaining momentum with each point continued to roll up 12-6. Amanda Schott brought the lead back to five down 14-94, but MIT would not relinquish any more of their comfortable margin. A Rasmussen kill made it 19-14, but with no stop to the bleeding in sight Coach Kelsey was forced to use her second time out down 20-14. MIT would not let the Ephs get any closer, finishing out the match on 5-3 run to take the 25-17 victory.
If possible the third set started out even worse for Williams, as MIT took an early 6-1 lead that quickly ballooned out to nine points up 11-2. The Ephs were unable to seriously challenge the lead. An ace by senior Mika Nakashige gave Williams some hope down 16-6, but the Ephs would remain down by nine at 18-9. Down 11 points 22-11 Williams decided to make a final go at it, ripping off a string of points to make it 17-23, although MIT would then grind out the set victory 25-17.
To their credit the Ephs did not roll over in the fourth set, jumping out to an early 7-3 lead punctuated by a Farley kill that caused MIT to burn a timeout. A kill by Rasmussen made it 8-4 for Williams, and a block by Farley pushed the lead to five up 9-4. A kill by Doll made it 13-8 while a block by Eagon made it 14-8. The Engineers closed the gap down to two points at 12-14 while a Miller kill and Rasmussen block brought the lead back up to 16-12. After an Emily Doll kill made it 17-12 MIT took another timeout.
There would be no resounding momentum shift out of the timeout. A service error by the Engineers put the Ephs back up 21-15, a margin which Rasmussen maintained with a kill to 22-16. A kill by Egan made it 23-17, and another missed serve by the Engineers gave Williams the set point up 24-19. With MIT closing the gap down to 24-21. Williams took a timeout, enabling them to shift the momentum back and close out the 25-22 set victory.
Going into the deciding fifth set the result of the match was still in doubt. The closeness of the two sides was clearly evident as they battled through ties at 1-1 and 2-2 before MIT took a 4-2 lead. A Rasmussen kill and an ace by O'Day tied things up at 4-4 for the Ephs. A 4-0 run by the Engineers would prove a decisive turning point in the set, as MIT went up 8-4, prompting a William timeout. Out of the time out a kill by Doll made it 5-9, while an MIT hitting error narrowed the gap to 8-6. MIT used a late 2-0 run to go up 10-6, which would prove to be essentially the winning margin as the Engineers took the deciding set 15-10.
While Williams performed extremely well at times their struggle to maintain a high level of effort and execution cost them at crucial times in the match.
Rasmussen would lead the team with 10 kills, while classmate Miller was just behind with 9. Doll was third on the team with 8. A highlight for the Ephs was their strong blocking at the net, which nearly singlehandedly won them sets one and four. Senior co-captain Haley Eagon would lead the way with 8 blocks, while Doll chipped in with an additional 5. Catherine Egan had 4 blocks for third place. The defensive backcout for Williams was a team effort as Schott (14) and senior Lauren Agoubi (10) both registered double digit digs. First year setter Ryan Farley (9) and Emily O'Day (7) also played well defensively.
Williams will attempt to rebound against perennial NEWMAC power Springfield tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM before facing off against another NEWMAC opponent, Wellesley, at 3:00 PM.