WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Perhaps the most important part of the preseason for Williams College Head Volleyball Coach Christi Kelsey was convincing her student-athletes to turn the page on 2013.
In one of the more memorable seasons in Williams history, the Ephs went 27-5, won the NESCAC Tournament title and hosted the NCAA Regional, before bowing to UMass-Boston in the final.
But the past is the past, and leaving that behind was one of the first things Kelsey addressed.
"That's something that we've talked about even before the preseason; turning the page on the calendar year," she said. "What we accomplished last year was great, and there were a lot of intangibles that we can carry over to this season, but everything else must start with a new slate. It's exciting to think about what we can build from now until November."
Williams will be led by its senior class of four, which includes captain Claire Miller in addition to Emily O'Day, Raea Rasmussen and Mandy Schott. The junior class consists of Ryan Farley, Katherine Lane and Catherine Egan. The sophomore class is comprised of Tori Jasuta, Anna Spellman, Catie Benell and Funmi Adejobi.
In addition, Kelsey has brought in two first years, Shelby Fisher and Elizabeth Cromack.
|Claire Miller '15|
"We have a great group of 13 young women," Kelsey said. "There's definitely an enthusiasm about where they are at and where our program is at that is pretty cool to be around right now. For us as a program, the things that are our core value don't change year to year. The biggest is that this is our volleyball family and we put a priority on making sure we continue to build our relationships and connections with one another both on and off the court to create a strong foundation that defines our team chemistry."
Jasuta, reigning AVCA 1st Team All-American and NESCAC Player and Rookie of the Year, led the Ephs in several categories, including kills (443) kills per set (3.96), digs (405) and had a strong .300 hitting percentage. But the Ephs are far from one-trick pony. Farley, a 1st Team All-NESCAC selection as well as All-New England, averaged 10.54 assists per set, 1,180 overall and also had 240 digs. Rasmussen grabbed All-New England honors as well, averaging 1.99 kills per set and leading the team with an outstanding .435 hitting percentage.
Other numbers that stand out include Miller's 1.94 kills/set; Lane's 1.60 kills/set and .256 hitting percentage and Schott's 346 digs.
"I think there were a lot of things, from our skill set to our team systems, that were very, very good last year and that was because of a lot of hard work and commitment from our players to raise the bar for our program," Kelsey said. "But, we know each year the NESCAC keeps getting deeper, stronger and more competitive, as well as the New England Region as a whole so we have to keep setting new standards and goals for our team and stay focused on making our group better every day."
As for a NESCAC repeat, the coach isn't about to get in the prediction business.
"The battle for the NESCAC title every year is an exciting process," she noted. "The entire league is a fun, talented group across the board. There's more competitive depth, tremendous coaches at every institution, and lots of great players. It makes it exciting and challenging night in and night out."
Williams opens its season Saturday by competing against Wellesley and Coast Guard at the Brandeis Invitational.