Brunswick, Maine – Bowdoin (23-4/9-1 NESCAC) battled back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Williams (18-10/8-2 NESCAC) in five sets to claim the NESCAC title and the conference's automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
The starters for the Ephs were Ally Ostrow '19, Roxi Corbeil '19, Tori Jasuta '17, Ryan Farley '16, Katherine Lane '16, Catherine Egan '16, and libero Caitie Benell '17. The first set began with a two-nothing lead by Bowdoin. Williams pushed back and brought the score to 8-4 with a kill by Ostrow from the outside. Up 12-7, Jasuta earned a cross-court kill from the outside. Bowdoin responded and soon brought their deficit to within on at 15-14 after a bad set by the Ephs. Up 21-17, Egan got a service ace. The Ephs hit consistently and played a confident set to ultimately win 25-20.
At the start of the second set, Bowdoin took the lead 3-1 after a bad set by the Ephs. However, Williams fought back and settled the score to 7-3 with help from Jasuta who earned three kills. At 10-5 and 11-5, Ostrow had back-to-back kills with precise setting from Farley. After working hard but still trailing, Bowdoin managed to bring the score to within one at 18-17.
Up 20-17, Benell had a service ace. The Ephs pushed through to 25 to win the second set 25-19. Match point was a big block by Jasuta.
The third set began with Bowdoin showing more energy than ever as a Williams win would put an end to the tournament. Up 4-2, Lane had a sharp kill from the middle. Tied at 6-6, Bowdoin had a service ace. Up 8-6, Farley had a kill with an assist from Jasuta. Tied at 9-9, Jasuta got a kill from the outside. Bowdoin regained the lead after multiple kills to set the score at 15-12. The Ephs pushed back to tie at 15-15 after a kill by Benell.
At 19-17, the Ephs held onto the lead with a kill by Ostrow from the outside. Bowdoin continued to work hard and took back the lead at 21-19. After a kill by Morgan Richman '19 and an attack error by Bowdoin, both teams were tied at 21-21. Bowdoin earned the edge after critical kills by their outside hitter and won the set 25-22. Match point was a booming block from Bowdoin on the right pin. The third set had five lead changes and eight ties to make it a competitive, nail-bighting match.
The fourth set began with Shelby Fisher '18 entering as middle hitter. The home crowd was fully invested in the home team and the gym was electrified in chants for Bowdoin. Bowdoin went on a three-nothing run to begin the match. Jasuta broke the streak with a kill from the outside. Bowdoin held the lead at 8-5 after an attack error by the Ephs. Bowdoin responded with scrappy defense and athletic digging and tip recovery. Bowdoin went on a run to set the score at 14-9. At 14-10, Jasuta got a kill from the outside.
Williams continued trailing but worked hard to create big plays. Bowdoin took the biggest lead in a set of the match at 18-12 after an attack error by Williams. After consistent digs by Ostrow and kills by Jasuta, Williams narrowed the gap. After a tip by Jasuta, the Ephs were within two of the lead at 19-17. After being down by six points, Williams tied the score at 19-19. Williams worked hard to keep the ball in play to tie the score again at 20-20.
Fisher got a kill in the middle at 23-23. After a kill by Bowdoin put them at match point, a service error by the Ephs set the score at 25-23. Bowdoin's critical victory forced a fifth set after the Ephs were up two sets to nothing.
In the fifth set, Williams took the lead 2-1. This lead was the first time the Ephs had led since they were up 19-18 in the third set. Bowdoin was back up 7-5 after some strong attacks at the net. Bowdoin was leading at the side change up 8-5. Bowdoin had a big block to set the score at 10-5. Jasuta fired back with a much-needed kill at 11-6. Bowdoin remained confident at match point. Ultimately, Bowdoin won the set 15-7.
In a hard-fought battle, Williams lost the match in five sets (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 7-15) after being up two sets to none.