Amherst, MA—Williams College volleyball (10-1, 3-0 NESCAC) battled Amherst College (8-3, 2-1 NESCAC) tonight, beating the Lord Jeffs in a five set match. The set scores were 25-21, Williams; 25-20, Amherst; 25-21, Williams; 26-24, Amherst; and 15-13, Williams.
The win by the Ephs gives them two consecutive Little Three titles.
The Ephs started the first set by trailing a couple of points behind Amherst until Raea Rasmussen and Emily O'Day scored a kill and a service ace, tying the score early on, 4-4. Play continued point-for-point with Williams maintaining their lead until Amherst scored a service ace and pushed their score to another tie, 8-8. The Eph defense fought on, and a flying save by setter Ryan Farley sent the ball to a deep corner. A service ace by libero Amanda Schott gained Williams the lead, 11-10. Play continued with the teams evenly matched, until Catie Benell scored another service ace, pushing the Ephs to their first two-point lead, 17-15. Amherst was forced to call the first time-out after a huge Eph block by Rasmussen and Katherine Lane broke 20 points for Williams. The Ephs refused to let up coming out of time-out, and Schott broke the Jeff's serve receive with another ace. Once the score reached 23-19, Amherst called another time-out in attempt to regroup. It proved fruitless, however, as Williams continued to crush the ball, and a final kill by Rasmussen won the first set, 25-21.
Winning momentum set the Ephs off to an early lead in the second set, as Rasmussen and Lane burned the right side with repeated swings. After Tori Jasuta scored a kill followed by a service ace, Williams held their lead 6-2. Quick plays from the middle littered Amherst's court, but the Lord Jeffs fought back with cannons of their own, and managed a point streak that tied the score 8-8. The Jeff defense hardened against the Eph front line, and Amherst pushed ahead to take their first lead, 11-9. Lane dropped the hammer and pressed the score back to 11-11 with kills of her own. A heavy outside hit by Claire Miller pulled the Ephs back into the lead, 14-13, but after some lost battles at the net, Williams was forced to call a time-out when the score reached 18-15, Amherst. Williams continued swinging with a vengeance, and after a huge Eph block shrunk the point deficit to three points, Amherst called a time-out. The Lord Jeffs managed to stay in control, and a final kill won Amherst the second set, 25-20.
Williams sought revenge in the third set, managing to shake off the communication mishaps from the previous set. The first few points took the form of long rallies, with each side exchanging termination. The score was mostly tied with Amherst leading slightly until Catherine Egan smashed the ball from the outside, giving Williams their first lead, 7-6. The Ephs fired away until the score reached 14-11 and Amherst called a time-out. Claire Miller and Rasmussen rejected the Jeffs' assault with a big middle block during Jasuta's serving streak. However, the Jeffs fired cannons of their own, tying the score late in the game at 18-18. Williams called a time-out, attempting to recover after Amherst gained a slight lead, 20-19. The Ephs fought on despite Amherst's strong defense, and Jasuta and Rasmussen kept their arms strong during long rallies, winning the Ephs the third set, 25-21.
The fourth set again saw point-by-point play, and although Farley dished out sets for her attackers, the Jeffs held strong, keeping the score tied at 6-6 and then 11-11. Benell's service ace gained the Ephs their first lead in a while, 15-14, followed by a kill by Lane, forcing Amherst to take a breather at 16-14, Williams. Coming out of time-out, Amherst managed to tie the score again and then push their lead 20-18, driving Williams to call their own time-out. Egan and Miller smashed the opposing court, tying the score yet again at 23-23. A kill from Jasuta put Williams at game point, but attacks from the Jeffs proved to be too much, and Amherst won the fourth set, 26-24.
Tensions were high at the start of the final set, with fans from both schools cheering at the top of their lungs. The Ephs put down ball after ball, gaining a quick lead 6-2 over the Jeffs, who called the first time-out of the set. The teams switched sides after repeated kills from Miller pushed the score to 8-4. The Amherst defense kicked it up a notch, and their front line smashed the court as well, setting the score at a nail-biting 9-9. An Eph error gave the Jeffs a one-point lead, and Williams called a time-out in order to shake it off and keep control of the game. The Ephs continued to trail, 12-9, until Lane and Jasuta broke through the Jeffs defense. A huge block by the Eph front line pulled the Ephs back up, 12-12. Amherst managed one more point, but Williams dropped the hammer twice more to win the fifth set, 15-13.
Tori Jasuta, named NESCAC player of the week last week, scored the most kills of either team with 20 total. The Ephs' defense was strong and well spread, with Claire Miller and Emily O'Day digging 16 balls each and Tori Jasuta and Amanda Schott digging 15 balls each. Setter Ryan Farley also had an impressive match, setting up her front line with 53 assists and 13 digs.
The Lord Jeffs were led by Lizzie Ahem, who scored 13 kills and dug 17 balls. Amherst's defense was also impressive this match, and notable defenders were Katie Warshaw who managed 24 and Kelci Keeno who managed 20.
"It was a great NESCAC battle," Coach Christi Kelsey commented when asked about the intense five-set match. "I was really proud of our team for hanging in and being mentally tough when the pressure was on."
Williams continues their season on Tuesday September 30th against Union College in Schenectady, NY, at 7pm.