Williams Ephs Defeat Springfield Pride 3-2 in NCAA Regional Semi-Finals

Williams Ephs Defeat Springfield Pride 3-2 in NCAA Regional Semi-Finals

NCAA Division III Williamstown, Mass. Regional Women's Volleyball Tournament

Williamstown, MA—Williams College improved to 27-4 on the year with their win, while Springfield College finished the season at 26-6.

Springfield began the first set of the Semi-Finals strongly, quickly gaining an 8-4 lead despite the first two kills by Williams' Tori Jasuta and Emily Doll. Heavy hits by Springfield's Lauren Holt and Daniella Crismani set the score at 9-6, Springfield. After a strategic dump by setter Ryan Farley, Williams quickly caught up until the score was first tied at 9-9. Back and forth dumps and kills gained each team points until a kill by Springfield's Crismani tied the score again at 20-20. Williams' Doll earned a service ace, sandwiched in between two major kills by Jasuta, setting the score 22-20, Williams, and Springfield called their first time out. Coming out of time out, Jasuta smashed the fifteen-foot line and placed a smart rollshot to empty court. Lane scored the final point with a rapid behind-the-setter middle hit, winning the Ephs the first set, 25-21

Springfield retaliated in the second set, pushing ahead early on with help from Holt and Kelsey McGayhey and setting the score at 7-5. Williams fought back, Jasuta, Doll and Lane scoring kills, thanks to libero Mandy Schott's impressive dives, until the score tied at 9-9. Strategic dumps and service aces allowed Springfield to inch beyond Williams, eventually forcing the Ephs to call the first time out at 16-11, Springfield. Long rallies followed the time out, with each team duking it out until an error by Springfield pressured the team to call their own time out, the score being 18-15, Springfield. Raea Rasmussen showed major net domination, putting any tight ball instantly down, but the Ephs couldn't shield the floor against McGayhey, Palladino, and Entel. Springfield took the second set, 25-20.

The third set began heatedly with both teams cranking the ball to the ground. The lead swung back and forth until Williams pulled ahead, 8-5, with Lane and Doll blocking tandem, and Springfield called the first time out. Coming out of time out, the Pride pushed into high gear, quickly tying up the score 11-11 thanks to Amanda Palladino and Holt. They pulled ahead, McGayhey and Tessa Smolinski swinging their arms until the Ephs called time out at 15-12, Springfield. Lane engaged in a net battle with Springfield's Palladino and managed to tie up the score at 16-16, when Springfield called their second time out. The Pride pushed forward, and, with Smolinski's serving streak and a huge final block by Holt and McGayhey, took the third set 25-18.

Williams planned for a comeback and executed in the fourth set. After trailing behind, due to kills by Springfield's Smolinski and Holt, Ephs' Rasmussen and Jasuta helped tie the score at 4-4. The momentum fiercely changed after Farley and Lane domed Springfield's outside, and, gaining the serve, Williams' Doll served for six consecutive points. Jasuta and Lane helped the team force their breakaway to 11-4, forcing Springfield called the first time out at 13-5, attempting to change the flow. Springfield's Smolinski had a five-point serving run, pressuring the Ephs to call a time out at 20-15. Springfield's pressure proved fruitless, however, and though Springfield's Crismani and Smolinski earned three more kills, Williams' Jasuta, Rasmussen, and Claire Miller swung harder, winning the fourth set 25-20.

Williams carried their winning momentum to the fifth set, with Doll and Lane battling Springfield's Smolinski and Holt for the first few points. After a huge tandem block by Farley and Lane, the 6-4 score pressured the Pride to call the first time out. Williams quickly won the battle to 8, thanks to flying saves by Farley and Schott. After changing sides, Rasmussen and Doll continued to rack up the points. Both teams fought intensely, with Springfield's Crismani and Smolinski breaking past Eph defenses. The score reached the closest point at 11-10, Williams, but the Ephs denied the Pride's attempts to gain lead. Lane scored the final point with a quick middle hit, ending the set 15-11.

Williams' head coach Christi Kelsey commented on the battle with the Pride, "Springfield's a tremendous team... but for us to gun it out in such a way, it makes me proud of these young women." Senior captain Emily Doll said, "Volleyball is a game of highs and lows." Setter Ryan Farley, when asked where the win came from, then said, "we really just came together...that's what wins games for us, the team."

When asked about the match, Springfield's coach Moira Long said, "[Williams] has a lot of weapons, we have a lot of weapons, it was bang-for-bang."

Junior setter Whitney Miller added, "we had a great season...we laid it all out tonight."

Finally, Long commented on the leadership of Miller, "Whit is our heart and soul."

The Williams College Ephs were lead by Tori Jasuta's 24 kills, Ryan Farley's 54 assists, and Mandy Schott's 19 digs.

The Springfield College Pride was lead by Tessa Smolinski's 15 kills, Whitney Miller's 35 assists, and Amy Entel's 29 digs.

The Ephs' win improves their all-time NCAA record to 17-10, and reduces the Pride's tournament record to 14-10.

Williams College will continue on tomorrow in the NCAA Regional Finals to play UMass Boston, the defending NCAA regional champions, at 3:00 PM.

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