Williamstown, Mass.-- Volleyball coaches generally insist that no single point is more important than any other. With a single block, however, Williams senior co-captain Haley Eagon and first year setter Ryan Farley proved this time honored adage wrong, thunderously rejecting a Tufts attack on match point for the Ephs to give Williams their first victory over the Jumbos since the 2009 NESCAC Championship. The statement point put an end to a fantastic match for both squads that saw them battle ferociously back and forth over four tight sets before the Ephs were able to pull out the 3-1 victory (25-21, 25-13, 18-25, 26-24). With the win the Ephs move to 14-10 (7-2 in NESCAC) while Tufts, which came into the match with an identical record falls to 13-11 (6-3 in NESCAC).
In a pre-match ceremony Williams honored the strong contributions of their senior class, comprising Eagon and classmates Lauren Agoubi and Mika Nakashige. The teammates have racked up an impressive 70 wins in their career counting the victory over Tufts, including a NESCAC championship and NCAA Sweet 16 run in 2009.
In the first set Williams was able to keep it close in the early goings with some help from the Jumbos, who had two quick service errors to tie things up at 3-3. Tufts bounced back, however, rolling out to a 6-3 lead. A kill by Farley cut into the margin, although the Jumbos would manage to keep the run going up to 8-4, prompting a Williams time out. Williams would side out coming out of the break down 9-5, but Tufts increased their lead once again to six points up 12-6 and 14-8. The Ephs were unable to easily find a way back into the match fown 16-10. An ace by sophomore defensive specialist Amanda Schott, however, gave Williams some life down 16-12, followed by a kill from sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller. It was now Tufts' turn to take a time-out, perhaps sensing the momentum of the set beginning to shift against them.
A hitting error by the Jumbos out of the time out made it 14-16 Williams. Another kill by Miller made it 15-16, and provided another boost to the home team. Their confidence growing the Ephs tied the match at 16-16 through a block by Farley, and took the lead on a kill by junior co-captain Emily Doll. Tufts called their second time out, capping the 7-0 Williams run, which they were finally able to stop coming out of the break. The Jumbos, getting a second wind, took an 18-17 lead before an Eagon block tied things up once again. An ace by Farley gave them a one point lead up 19-18, a margin they would maintain with a kills by Miller (20-19) and sophomore outside hitter Raea Rasmussen (21-19). A huge dig by Schott kept a lengthy rally alive for the Ephs to set up another kill by Rasmussen to make the score 22-20. A kill by first year middle hitter Catherine Egan cranked the pressure on the Jumbos up another notch as Williams took a 23-21 lead. A block by Egan made it 24-21, and an ace by Doll ended the first set 25-21.
Williams built on the momentum they earned from their tremendous comeback in set one in the start of set two. A kill by Rasmussen gave the Ephs a 2-1 lead, which increased to 4-1 following back to back Rasmussen blocks. A kill by Egan made it 5-1, and Doll would maintain the four point margin with a kill off a slide at 6-2. Back to back kills by Egan made it 8-4. The offensive barrage from the Ephs kept on coming with killers by Miller to make it 9-5 and 10-5. As a team Williams hit .438 in the second set, tallying 15 kills in 32 attempts while committing only one hitting error. With Farley at the line the Ephs ran the lead out to as much as 12-6 before Tufts finally called a time out to try and stop the bleeding. The Jumbos grabbed the ball back, closing the gap to just four down 12-8. A kill by Miller, however, snuffed out the rally, and a block by Rasmussen made it 14-9. With Eagon at the service line Williams would increase their lead even more. A kill by Egan bade it 17-9 requiring another time out from Tufts. The Jumbos would close the gap down to 11-17 before a kill by Doll stopped them in their tracks. A kill by Miller made it 20-12 with sophomore libero Emily O'Day providing constant pressure with her tough serving. Back to back blocks by Miller made it 22-13, a gap that Tufts was unable to close down further as a hard swing by Miller ended things 25-13.
It was the Jumbos who came out swinging in the third set, grabbing the early advantage 3-1. A block by Rasmussen tied things at 3-3, and a kill by Egan gave the Ephs a two point lead up 5-3. A block by Farley made it 6-4, although Tufts would come back to tie things at 6-6. An Eagon kill put the Ephs back up one point 9-8, although once again the Jumbos came back, flipping the score to go up two points 13-11.
A kill by Rasmussen made things 12-13 for Williams, although once again Tufts rebounded to go up by four points 16-12. The Ephs took a time out to catch their breath, and got the break they needed to recapture serve. A kill by Miller narrowed the gap to two points down 16-14, although the surging Jumbos went back up 18-14 before another Miller kill ended the run down 19-15. An Eagon kill kept Williams in it down four at 20-16 but a late leap by Tufts put them up five points 22-17. The gap proved too much for the Ephs to come back from, conceding the set 25-18.
In the fourth set Williams found themselves once again in an early hole down 3-1 and 4-2. Tufts maintained their two point lead up 7-5 before a kill by Miller brought the Ephs closer down 7-6. The Jumbos bounced right back to a two point lead up 8-6, although a service error and subsequent ace by Eagon tied things up at 8-8. With Eagon still serving Williams hung strong in a marathon rally ended by and Egan kill to take the lead 10-8. Tufts took a timeout to try and stop the looming momentum shift.
A block by Doll out of the timeout made it 11-8 for the Ephs, and with the Jumbos trying to rally a Rasmussen kill made it 12-10. A kill by Egan maintained the two point margin up 13-11 but Tufts would draw level at 13-13. The Jumbos would go up 14-13 before a hitting error tied things up once again. A ball handling error by Tufts gave Williams the lead up 15-14, a margin that the Ephs maintained with a Farley block to 16-15. A kill by Miller made it 17-15 although once again the Jumbos fought back to tie things at 17-17. In what was turning into a nail-biter of a set Williams took one point leads up 19-18 (kill by Doll) and 20-19 (kill by Rasmussen).
Tufts took another time out, and came out of the break on fire to go up 21-20. A kill by Rasmussen tied it up 21-21 before the Jumbos took a one point lead up 22-21. A service error prompted a tie once again at 22-22, and a Miller kill put the Ephs back in control up 23-22. A huge block by Egan gave Williams match point up 24-22, although the Jumbos refused to quit, staving off two consecutive match points to tie things at 24-24. A Miller kill stopped the rally and gave the Ephs their third match point. Fittingly, it was a senior, Haley Eagon, who alongside the rookie Farley stuffed the final point down for the win. Unquestionably the biggest block of Eagon's career, it gave Williams a much deserved win.
The Ephs played well in all aspects of the game, registering a stellar hitting percentage offensively of .248, while tallying 14 blocks, eight more than their opponents, on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore Claire Miller would lead all hitters with 18 kills, while Raea Rasmussen and Catherine Egan were second on the team with 11 kills apiece. Miller would also lead the team individually in hitting percentage, hitting .348 (18 kills, 2 errors, 46 attempts). First year Ryan Farley ran the Williams offense close to perfection, registering 46 assists on the evening. Egan had a career high nine blocks, just ahead of classmate Farley, who had five. In the defensive backcourt Emily O'Day had 18 digs, while Eagon dug up a further 13 balls for the Ephs.
With the eventual seedings for the NESCAC tournament still in flux, Williams faces off against Bowdoin tomorrow afternoon in a crucial conference show-down. The match begins at 2:00 pm in Chandler gymnasium.