New London, CT-- Facing off against top-seeded and host Connecticut College in the semifinals of the NESCAC championship Volleyball fought for every point but fell just short in their upset bid. The Camels would take the victory in straight sets 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-16). The Ephs, having taken down archrival Amherst in the quarterfinals the previous evening for the only upset of the tournament to this point wrap up their season with a 15-12 mark whereas the Camels will battle tomorrow for their first ever conference championship title.
Playing in front of a loud and boisterous home crowd Conn took an early 3-1 lead in the first set. Back to back blocks by sophomore Raea Rasmussen and first year Catherine Egan, however, pulled the Ephs level. While Conn would respond, great pursuit by senior co-captain Haley Eagon on an errant dig off the court set up a kill for first year Ryan Farley, stopping the Camels' rally attempt short down 6-5. An ace by sophomore Amanda Schott tied things at 6-6, although Conn would quickly rush out to a 10-6 lead, prompting a Williams time out. The Ephs got the ball back down 11-7 where a kill by junior co-captain Emily Doll made it 11-8. A block by Eagon kept the gap at three down 12-9 while a kill by Rasmussen lowered it further to 12-10. Conn went back up 14-10, although a service error and hitting left them with only a two point lead once again. The Camels rallied again to 16-12 although the Ephs charged back to make it 16-14. A kill by Egan made it 17-15 and another by Claire Miller kept the margin to 16-18 as Williams proved unable to cut further into the two-point deficit. A hitting error by Conn gave the Ephs the break they needed down 19-18, while a service error by the Camels made it 20-19. A short two point burst by the hosts, however, put them up 22-19, necessitating a second time out by Williams. Kills by Doll made it 20-23 and 21-24, although Conn would squeeze out the set victory 25-21.
In the second set the Camels went up 3-1 again early. A block by first year Katherine Lane pulled a point back down 3-2, while a kill by Doll made it 3-4 for the Ephs. Williams tied the score up at 5-5 with a block by Egan, and a kill by Miller gave the Ephs their first lead of the match up 6-5. A block by Doll tied it at 8-8 following a Conn rally, and two kills by Miller put Williams up 9-8 and 10-8 respectively. The Camels would tie the score at 10-10 before a Doll block made it 11-10 for the Ephs. Conn would flip the score, however to 12-11 and 13-12, although Williams would tie things up in both instances. With the Camels taking a two point lead up 16-14 the Ephs took a time out seeking to stop the momentum. Conn would serve two more points before a kill by Lane made it 15-18 for Williams. Down 20-15 the EPhs took their second time out, and although a late kill by Egan narrowed the gap to 21-16 the Camels just had a little too much left in the tank, taking the 25-19 set win.
A kill by Emily Doll punctuated a 3-0 run for Williams to start the third set. A block by Eagon made it 5-1. Embarking on a 5-1 run of their own, however, Conn would fight back to tie the set at 6-6. A kill by Lane briefly regained the lead for the Ephs up 7-6 before the Camels took a two point lead 9-7. A kill by Miller brought Williams back into it down 10-9, although Conn responded, going up 14-10. The Ephs took their first time out, getting the ball back out of the break. A Rasmussen kill made it 12-14, while another kill by Doll maintained the two point deficit down 15-13. A 5-0 run by the Camels, however, broke the set wide open, taking an extremely important 20-13 lead. Williams took their second time out in a bid to regain momentum. While the Ephs fought gamely to get back into the match the Conn lead was never in serious doubt as they gained in confidence with each passing point, drawing immeasurable strength from their strong home crowd to close out the match 25-16.
Despite the obviously tough loss the Ephs have much to be happy with regarding their level of play throughout the entire season. Noted head coach Christi Kelsey: "I'm really proud of how far our team has grown both on and off the court this season. I think our overall play dramatically improved from the first week of the season until now and that's a testament to their hard work every day." Even though the team clearly wishes that they could have grabbed the opportunity to play for a conference title, Kelsey remains satisfied with the result as a capstone on a successful season. "I think it says a lot about our team that the past three weeks we've been playing some of our best volleyball and overall I'm very happy with the team's performance this year."