Williamstown, MA—The Williams College Ephs (26-4) entered the first round of the Williamstown, Mass. Regional with a 3-0 win over the Sage Colleges Gators (25-7), 25-12, 25-18, 25-23. Williams will continue on tomorrow to the semi-final round at 5pm against the Babson College Beavers.
The first set began with a 4-4 tie, before Eph Catherine Egan took down consecutive balls at the net and senior Claire Miller smashed the backline. Gator Helen Putriment fought back with a Sage kill, but Williams rocketed onwards, 12-6, and the Gators called time-out. Back to back quick middle attacks from Eph Katherine Lane pushed the score to 16-8 on Amanda Schott's serve. Junior setter Ryan Farley broke twenty points on her serve, providing one service ace and setting up two kills for Tori Jasuta. Three kills from Ephs Egan, Raea Rasmussen, and Claire Miller wrapped up the first set for the Ephs, 25-12.
Eph Egan and Gator Rachel Martin exchanged kills at the start of the second set, but Ephs Rasmussen, Miller, and Farley dealt consecutive kills, followed by a one-handed block from Miller, setting the score at 7-2. The Gators held a strong defense and followed close behind at 11-7, but could not withstand heavy hits from Jasuta, who pushed the score to 15-9. The Ephs held their lead, but the Gators took a few long rallies and gathered kills from Rachel Martin, setting the score at 19-14. Williams' Egan carefully avoided the block and captured kills with well-placed tips, and a Gator service error put the Ephs at set point. Raea Rasmussen cranked out a kill to take the second set, 25-18.
A service ace from Eph libero Caitie Benell opened the third match 2-1, but a cross-kill from Gator Morgan Robinson tied the score at fives. A few Eph errors tied the score at 8-8, and two consecutive kills from Gators Mickey Mango and Rachel Liebig pushed Sage ahead 10-8. Strong defense from Sage maintained their lead, but quick swings from Lane and Egan tied the score again at 14-14. A service ace from Jasuta followed by an outside kill from Rasmussen brought the Ephs back up, leading 17-14. The score tied again after a service ace from Putriment, and a kill by Michayla Berard pushed Sage's score 21-20 when the Ephs called a time-out. Jasuta swung away to regain Williams' lead at 22-21, and a clever roll shot set the Ephs at match point. Farley set Egan up for a quick middle attack that smashed the floor for game point, 25-23.
Williams' front row was led by Catherine Egan with 13 kills, followed by Raea Rasmussen and Tori Jasuta with 11 and 10. Katherine Lane guarded the net with 3 blocks, and Jasuta covered back-court with 15 digs.
Williams' head coach Christi Kelsey stated, "Sage did some excellent stuff out there tonight. Our middle hitters made a difference for us, and Ryan Farley made good decisions." Eph middle hitter Catherine Egan added, "we had to work through those first jitters, but we have so much fun playing together."
Sage Colleges was led by Rachel Martin with 8 kills and Mickey Mango with 3 blocks. Siena Wilder and Rachel Liebig protected the court with 14 and 10 digs, respectively.
"Our goal was to get to the NCAA tournament, and we were thrilled to win our conference," said Sage head coach Sandy Augstein-Collins. Senior outside Helen Putriment commented, "What we could handle, we were all over. It felt good." She then added, "Also Mickey Mango played her little pants off,"
The Ephs continue their 12th NCAA appearance, playing Babson College tomorrow at 5pm in Chandler Gymnasium. Sage Colleges concludes their season with a 0-3 NCAA tournament record and 25-7 overall.