Brunswick, ME– The Ephs (17-9, 8-2 in NESCAC) geared up to defend their reigning back-to-back NESCAC Championship titles. The second-seed Ephs played seventh-seed Colby (14-12, 2-8 in NESCAC) in the quarterfinal match at Bowdoin on Friday night.
Colby had their best regular season record since 2005 and is in the NESCAC playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Ephs beat Colby in three sets (25-19, 25-21, 25-19) at home during the regular season. Head Coach Christi Kelsey remarked on the match when she said, "Colby was certainly a very strong, athletic team. Different style of play to have to adjust to and I think we worked really hard."
During the regular season match, senior middle hitter for Colby Kim Donaldson hit .360 and had 12 kills against the Ephs. Donaldson leads the Mules in kills (240 total) and blocks (92). Her career totals are up to 870 kills and 302 blocks. Natalie Roy is four defensive digs shy of 1,300 for her career and she leads the Mules with 335 this season. Sarah Arvidson has 145 kills and 257 digs, while Karolina Serhan is at 140 kills and 45 blocks. First-year Paige Hanssen leads Colby in service aces (46) and has 113 kills and 141 digs. Colby setters Molly Manuel (356 assists) and Emily Moslener (328 assists, 144 digs) will need to pass well at the net.
Williams ultimately took the win in the regular season with help from Mia Weinland '19, who earned 16 kills against Colby. She is second in the NESCAC in hitting percentage (.312). Senior tri-captain setter Ryan Farley leads the NESCAC in assists per set at 10.17. She had 35 assists in the win over Colby.
Williams began the first set of the NESCAC Quarterfinals with starters Roxi Corbeil '19, Shelby Fisher '18, Tori Jasuta '17, Katherine Lane '16, Catherine Egan '16, Ryan Farley '16, and libero Caitie Benell '17. The Ephs soon found themselves trailing after multiple attack errors. Down 7-3, the Ephs called their first timeout of the match. At 10-6, Fisher got a kill in the middle. Jasuta powered the ball across the net from the outside for the following point. The Ephs had trouble gaining confidence at the net with big blocks from Colby and strong outside kills.
The Ephs called their second timeout down by nine at 17-8. At 19-11, Morgan Richman '19 entered to serve. Colby had many attack attempts, including many successful tips at the net that switched up the speed. At 20-14, Egan got a kill. Farley earned a much needed service ace at 24-17. However, Colby won the first set 25-18 after an attack error by the Ephs at match point.
Colby began the second set with a six-nothing run. Jasuta broke the streak with a kill at 6-1. The Ephs managed to climb back with kills by Lane, Ostrow, and Corbeil. With strong defense, the Ephs regained the lead at 7-8 after a kill by Ostrow and assist by Farley. Morgan Richman got a kill when she entered to serve at 13-8. Jasuta got another kill from the outside up 16-10. At 19-13, after a controlled dig by Ostrow and assist by Benell, Jasuta smacked down a kill from the outside. Corbeil earned a kill from the right side by painting the back line of Colby's court. Colby called a timeout at 21-16.
Back from the timeout, the Ephs continued to dominate at the net with a kill from each of their front row hitters, Ostrow, Corbeil, and Lane. The Ephs won the second set 25-17. At the start of the third set, Corbeil earned a kill after a blocking error by Colby. At 4-2, Egan got a block in the middle. At 7-6, Farley got a kill with an assist by Richman. Colby edged back in to narrow the deficit and tied at 10-10, Lane got a kill in the middle. At 16-15 and 17-15, Jasuta got back-to-back kills. Down 18-16, Colby called a timeout. Back on the court, the Ephs went on a five-point run. After Farley got a service ace, Colby called another timeout in an attempt to shift the momentum. With the ball back in play, the Ephs continued their run. Williams won the set 25-18 after a kill from Ostrow.
The fourth set began with a four-nothing run by the Ephs that included two kills by Jasuta. At 6-3, Jasuta got a service ace. Down 13-9, Colby called a timeout. Back on the court, both teams had skilled attacks from their hitters. Up 22-16, Farley got a kill. Williams won the match 25-16 with a service ace from Egan at match point.
Ultimately, Williams defeated seventh seed Colby in four sets (18-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-16) to advance to the semifinal round of the NESCAC Tournament. Coach Kelsey remarked on the match when she explained, "I have to give Colby a ton of credit because they came out fired up and ready to go for the first set and a half. To our credit, we got a little momentum going in the second set and just kept building off of it from there. We had some folks really step up but Im proud of our team overall for how they battled back and competed to win the match!"
The tournament continues with the Ephs playing the winter of the Conn College versus Amherst on Saturday at 3:30pm at Bowdoin.
2015 NESCAC Volleyball Championship Schedule
Hosted by Bowdoin College
Quarterfinals – Friday, November 6
No. 8 Bates at No. 1 Bowdoin – 5 p.m.
No. 7 Colby vs. No. 2 Williams – 5 p.m.
No. 6 Connecticut College vs. No. 3 Amherst – 8 p.m.
No. 5 Tufts vs. No. 4 Middlebury – 8 p.m.
Semifinals – Saturday, November 7
Winner of 1/8 vs. Winner of 4/5 – 1 p.m.
Winner of 2/7 vs. Winner of 3/6 – 3:30 p.m.
Championship – Sunday, November 8
Semifinal Winners – Noon