WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – For the third consecutive year Christi Kelsey's Williams women's volleyball team has earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
This year the 18-10 Ephs will head north to Potsdam, NY where Clarkson University is hosting an 8-team regional.
Williams will face Ithaca College (30-4) at 5:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to Saturday's regional semifinal round.
"I am first and foremost incredibly proud of our entire team after their matches this past weekend, said Kelsey. "They put together three gutsy performances in the NESCAC Tournament and while we came up just short against a strong and highly-competitive Bowdoin team, I was so impressed with our crew as they, I believe, finally found their true identity as a close-knit, gritty, and overall mentally tough group."
At the NESCAC Tournament semifinals and finals hosted by Bowdoin the Ephs played two five-set matches. In the semifinals the Ephs faced off against archrival Amherst and prevailed. Williams won the first set and Amherst the next two, before the Ephs won the final two sets to make an appearance in the finals.
In the championship tilt the Ephs opened up a 2-0 lead on Bowdoin, but the Polar Bears came back to win five sets.
The Ephs are 5-5 in their last 10 matches, but have won four of their last five matches.
In Potsdam the Ephs will face a young Ithaca squad that has won nine of its last 10 matches and captured the Empire 8 title.
Sophomore setter Kayla Gromen is the Bombers' center of attack having registered 1.163 assists on the year. She also has 279 digs and 60 service aces. Gromen was named the Most Valuable Player at the Empire 8 championship.
Sophomore Joelle Goldstein leads the Bombers with 346 kills on the season, while first year middle hitter Katie Evans is one of the most proficient hitters in the nation connecting on 279 of 568 attempts for a .366 percentage. Amanda Cerruti leads Ithaca with an impressive 108 blocks.
In contrast to the Bombers the Ephs will field a squad that features five players that have appeared in three consecutive NCAA tournaments. The tournament tested Eph quintet includes the senior trio of Catherine Egan (OH/MB), Katherine Lane (MB) Ryan Farley (S), along with juniors Caitie Benell (LIB/DS) and Tori Jasuta (OH).
Ryan Farley is the offensive trigger to the Eph attack with 1,115 assists thus far this season. She is a three-time NESCAC First Team selection.
Though having to adjust her game to compensate for an injury last season Tori Jasuta leads the Eph in digs with 432. She also was named All-NESCAC for the third year in a row.
Katherine Lane has delivered 193 this fall and leads the Ephs in blocks with 54. Catherine Egan has 171 kills and is second on the squad in blocks with 46. Caitie Benell has contributed 356 digs on the backline.
The Ephs have also received strong play from three first years in Ally Ostrow, Roxi Corbeil (OPP), and Morgan Richman (OPP). Ostrow was named the NESCAC Rookie of the Year for her play at both libero and outside hitter and she is currently fifth in NESCAC in digs (376), has recorded 266 kills, and 26 service aces.
In 84 sets played Corbeil, has notched 150 kills, while Morgan Richman has added 196 digs and 44 kills in 98 sets.
"We are incredibly excited and grateful for the opportunity to keep playing this weekend," stated Eph head coach Christi Kelsey who was recently named the NESCAC Coach of the Year. "Ithaca has put together a tremendous season and will be a tough but exciting first round match-up for us. They have some talented athletes on their team who are strong competitors. We are working hard this week to prepare and despite the loss on Sunday, I really believe we are playing some of our best volleyball of the season right now, both mentally and physically. I really can't say enough about how proud I am of this group overall. We are looking forward to hitting the court on Friday!"
The winner of the Williams vs. Ithaca match will play the winner of the Clarkson vs. Colby-Sawyer match on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.