Medford, MA—Williams volleyball (25-4) won the NESCAC Championship Title this afternoon, downing #1 seed Tufts University (21-8) in an exciting five-set match. The set scores were 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 23-25, and 15-13.
This marks the second year in a row that the Ephs have won the title and they own a conference-best 11 titles overall.
Williams entered the NESCAC championship title match with the fiery momentum from their semi-final win yesterday, raking up a 7-1 lead over Tufts at the start of the first set. An 8-4 run from the Ephs set the score at 16-10, thanks to several kills from Tori Jasuta and Katherine Lane. The Jumbos pushed a four point run on Hayley Hopper's serve, pinching the point deficit to 16-14, but the Ephs sped forward with one kill after another. Seniors Claire Miller and Raea Rasmussen swung the hammer to push the Ephs' score to 21-16. Williams reached game point with a kill from Katherine Lane, and a final smash to center court from Tori Jasuta won the Ephs the first set, 25-20.
This time Tufts started the set with an early lead, gathering five points before the Ephs pulled an 8-1 run to set the score at 10-6, Williams. Tufts fought back with swings from Hayley Hopper and Isabel Kuhel, tying the score for the first time at 14-14. A solid 11-2 run from the Jumbos pressured Williams into a time-out when the score reached 19-14, but Tufts continued to push their score to 22-17, despite powerful hits from the Eph front line. Kills from Jasuta and Rasmussen pushed points for the Ephs, nearly catching up at 24-22 when Tufts called a time-out. A final kill from Jumbo Maddie Kuppe claimed the second set for Tufts, 25-22.
The third set saw the Jumbos take an early lead, but a right side kill from Catherine Egan tied the score at 4-4. Several lead exchanges alternated with a tied score, but a back row attack from Jasuta followed by a service ace from Amanda Schott set the Ephs two points ahead, 8-6. The Jumbos were pressured into time-out when Williams pushed the score to 12-7. Tufts attempted to halt the Ephs' momentum with a time-out after a kill by Rasmussen set the score at 19-14. Smart net play from the Ephs continued to push their score to low-twenties coming out of time-out, but the Jumbos kept their team alive with kills and blocks of their own. An Ephs error put the score at 22-18, and Williams called a time-out. The Jumbos managed a 4-1 run, pinching the Eph lead to 23-22, and Williams called another time-out. An Eph error put the 6th tie of the set at 23-23, but a kill from Jasuta placed the Ephs at game point. The last rally was a scramble for both teams, but the Jumbos couldn't keep it alive, giving Williams the third set, 25-23.
Tufts started hot in the fourth set, quickly doubling Eph points at 10-5. Another 7-2 run from the Jumbos set the score at 17-8, and Williams called a time-out to try to regroup. Two consecutive kills from Egan and Rasmussen followed by a service ace from Jasuta pushed points for the Ephs, and Tufts called a time-out at 18-11 in attempt to quell the Ephs' advance. Having no effect, the Jumbos called another time-out when the Ephs continued their seven-point run, creeping from behind at 18-15. Kills from Egan followed by Rasmussen shrank the deficit to one point at 19-18, eventually tying the score at 21-21. A hard cross ball from the Jumbos gave Tufts game point at 24-22, but a cannon from Jasuta kept Schott's serve alive. A final kill from Maddie Kuppe gave Tufts the fourth set, 25-23.
As the championship match entered the fifth set, the Ephs started strong with a service ace from Schott, but the Jumbos tied the score at 4-4. A couple of Ephs errors gave Tufts a three-point edge, but kills from Miller and Egan and a service ace from Jasuta tied the score at 7-7, forcing Tufts to call time-out. A lead change gave the Ephs the edge at 11-8 thanks to a service ace from Emily O'Day and a kill from Miller. Heavy hits from the Jumbos kept them close behind at 13-11, but the Ephs dealt a big block to put them at match point. Tufts cut the Eph lead to one point at 14-13, and Williams called time-out. The Jumbos couldn't control a cleverly placed tip from the Ephs, giving Williams the championship point, 15-13.
Three Eph hitters crushed double digits today, with Tori Jasuta, Claire Miller, and Raea Rasmussen pounding out 19, 13, and 12 kills respectively. Setter Ryan Farley and middle blocker Katherine Lane protected the net with three blocks each. Court coverage was led by Jasuta with 21 digs, Caitie Benell with 17 digs, and Amanda Schott with 10 digs. In total, the Ephs also managed 8 service aces.
The Jumbos' front line was led by Maddie Kuppe with 16 kills and Hayley Hopper with 13. Isabel Kuhel gathered five blocks at the net, backed by Carolina Berger and Kyra Baum who each gathered 18 digs.
The Ephs will continue their season at the NCAA tournament next weekend. Tune in on Monday 11am to watch the NCAA Selection Show at the link below.