Boston, MA— Williams College volleyball (4-1) started their busy weekend off strong with a three-set win over Salisbury (9-2) in the first match of the UMass Boston Invitational. In the second match of the day, Williams fell to UMass Boston (7-3) in a grueling five-set match.
The Ephs played their first match of the day against Salisbury University, beginning the first set with an early lead. Solid plays and well-executed attacks won the Ephs the first set, 25-16.
Salisbury fought back in the second set, putting up an improved defense against Williams' attacks. The teams alternated serving streaks and kills until the score was tied at 18-18. Errors on both sides pushed the score to 23-22, Williams. Finally, kills by Raea Rasmussen and Claire Miller won the Ephs the second set, 25-23.
Williams jumped right into the third set, and with a solid performance and well executed plays, swept the final set, 25-8.
Sophomore outside Tori Jasuta hit an impressive .444 in the Ephs' first match. Jasuta and senior libero Amanda Schott both gathered 13 digs, followed closely by setter Ryan Farley who dug 11 balls. Raea Rasmussen and Katherine Lane also had a good hitting day, scoring 7 and 6 kills, respectively, in the first match.
Katie Stouffer of Salisbury lead her team with 10 total kills alongside Jordan Lawson with 6 kills and a .267 hitting percentage. Michelle Meehan led Salisbury defense with 19 total digs.
The second match of the day began at 8pm, when the Ephs played against the home team, UMass Boston. The match this evening was an emotional one for both teams, as their last meeting took place in the NCAA sweet sixteen, where the Ephs were overcome in a 4-set home match.
The first set began with the Ephs and the Beacons evenly matched, with Williams trailing slightly behind until tying up the score at 8-8. With five lead exchanges throughout the match, play appeared neck-and-neck. Thanks to senior libero Amanda Schott's five-point serving streak, the Ephs pushed ahead to gain a three-point lead, 11-8, over the Beacons, forcing Boston to call their first time out. The Beacons retaliated with kills of their own, and after a service ace by Beacon Emma Rocha, Williams called their first time out of the set after falling slightly behind. Play resumed point-for-point, and the tied score rose to 18-18. Both teams were anxious to take control of the momentum, and when the score reached 23-22, Beacons, sophomore Tori Jasuta grabbed hold of the court with a kill followed by two service aces to win the Ephs the first set, 25-23.
Williams had a slow start in the second set, trailing by two or three points early on, and called the first time out when the score reached 7-4, Beacons. Boston continued to widen the lead, pushing the score to 16-12, due to hard hits by Murphy and Rocha. Williams refused to be pushed back, however, and with three consecutive points, shrunk the point deficit to 16-17, Beacons. Although the Ephs fought on, heavy hits from Boston's front line pushed the Beacons even farther ahead, and they finished off the set, 25-20, Boston.
With the determination to win after giving up the second set, the Ephs pounded away, racking up an attacking percentage of .289 with 17 kills in the third set. Although the Ephs trailed slightly behind during the first half of the game, a kill by Claire Miller tied up the score 13-13, after which Williams continued to push their lead. The teams tied a few more times until the score reached 18-18, and Eph middles Rasmussen and Lane scored 3 kills for their team, giving them the lead, 22-18. Although Beacon Pepper Baker scored a kill of her own, consecutive errors by Boston gave Williams the last few points to win the third set, 25-20.
UMass Boston charged back to grab the fourth set, taking and holding an early lead. The Beacons' defense widened its range, managing 24 digs in the fourth set.
By the end of the fourth set, the match had produced 32 ties and 11 lead changes, demonstrating the even matchup this evening. The Ephs struggled to close the gap that was widened by the Beacon pin-hitters, ultimately giving Boston their second set at 25-20.
The Ephs managed a slight early lead in the fifth set, but consecutive points by an Eph error and a kill by Beacon Morrison pushed a tied 6-6 score to 8-6, Beacons, and the teams switched sides. The Beacons pushed a break, raking up their score 11-8 and forcing the Ephs to call the first time-out of the final set. Jasuta and Murphy traded kills as both teams' defense sprawled on the floor. Boston called their first time-out after a kill by Catherine Egan pushed the score to 12-14, game point Beacons. A final kill by Morrison concluded the five-set match, 15-12.
The Ephs' offense was led by Katherine Lane with 10 kills and a .214 hitting percentage. Setter Ryan Farley had an impressive attacking percentage of .533, with 8 kills and 8 digs. Schott and Jasuta held up the Ephs' defense, gathering 23 and 21 digs, respectively, in all five sets.
Julia Murphy, 17 kills, and Kirsten Morrison, 11 kills, led the Beacon's attack line and were backed by libero Elizabeth Glavan with 32 digs.
Williams Coach Christi Kelsey commented on the Ephs' battle with the Beacons, stating, "UMass is a strong team. They do a lot of good things and we adjusted well at times tonight and not at others."
The Ephs will play two matches on the second day of the UMass Boston Invitational, against Whitman and Western Connecticut State, at 1:00 and 3:00pm, respectively.