WILLIAMSTOWN, MA-- The 7:00pm game in Chandler Gym marked the start of another thrilling season for the Williams College women's volleyball program. The 2015 season was a remarkable run for the Ephs as they posted an 18-11 record, finished second in the NESCAC championship to eventual national-quarterfinalist Bowdoin College and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament to represent the program's third straight post-season appearance (13th NCAA appearance overall).
This non-conference match was an exciting opportunity for the Ephs to showcase the hard work that they put in during preseason training. The Brewers are 5-20 in the all-time series against the Ephs. Senior co-captains Tori Jasuta and Caitie Benell showcased their leadership during the match. The sophomore class also had a strong showing with Ally Ostrow, Morgan Richman, Roxie Corbeil, Mia Weinland, Tess Richman and Nica Kovalcik. Additionally, the Ephs welcomed the fresh faces of the first-year class as well as new assistant coach Cailyn Straubel (2016 graduate and four-year player at Connecticut College). First-years Alex Newton (California), Daiana Takashima (California), Natalie Albright (New York), and Erin Denham (Illinois) brought new energy to the team.
The first set began with a powerful starting six. Ally Ostrow, Roxi Corbeil, Tori Jasuta, Alex Newton, Natalie Albright, and libero Caitie Benell brought excitement to Chandler with strong communication. The first point electrified the gym with a quick cross-court kill from Jasuta. At 3-1, the Ephs showcased their net play with a block by Richman and Corbeil on the Brewer's outside hitter. At 5-5, Ostrow had a confident line kill from the outside. Setter Alex Newton provided precise sets to pace the offensive hitters. At 8-8, Newton demonstrated her offensive skills by earning a kill from an overpass by the Brewers. Vassar responded in the first set with strong defensive skills with quick digging.
At 11-11, Eph head coach Christi Kelsey called the first timeout of the match. After the timeout, the Ephs continued to play consistently with another kill by Jasuta. Ostrow and Corbeil delivered rapid attacks to lead the offense from the left and right pins to tie things up at 14-14. At 17-18, Richman delivered a fast attack from the middle. At 21-22, Vassar took their first timeout of the match. Down 22-24, Williams called another timeout. After a long rally, Williams lost the first set 22-25.
The second set began with steady plays by the Ephs as they shook off initial nerves. At 5-4, Takashima subbed in with a strong floater serves. Vassar called a timeout with the Ephs up 8-4. At 9-5, Richman responded in the middle with a lighting-fast kill. Up 14-10, Benell earned an ace. The Ephs went on a run with strong serves and attacks. Vassar called a timeout down 19-11. At 23-13, Williams earned a point from a Vassar attack error after an energetic dig by Takashima. At Williams' match point, Albright had a powerful middle kill to take the match 25-17.
The Ephs earned an early lead in the third set and down 6-2 Vassar called the first timeout of the match. Returning from the timeout, Benell earned back-to-back service aces. Richman was injured at 8-4 and did not return to action. Vassar went on a run to tie at 8-8. At 9-8, Newton had a tricky tip to a hole in Vassar's coverage to earn a point. Richman had a big attack from the right side to continue the momentum down 10-11. Williams showed scrappy tip coverage and steady serve receive. Jasuta earned a kill from the back row up 16-15. Ostrow and Albright teamed up for a double block at 18-15 leading Vassar to take a timeout.
At 21-17, Takashima earned an ace for the Ephs. The momentum continued as Williams won the third set 25-18 with an ace from Ostrow at match point. The Ephs continued to push in the fourth set. The Ephs found an early lead up 4-2. Vassar caught up and regained the lead at 4-5. Williams called a timeout down 6-10. Down 9-10, Newton earned a kill from the right side. Jasuta got a big kill to line to put the Ephs up 14-12 and forced Vassar to call a timeout. Back from the timeout, Corbeil strategically tipped to earn a point for the Ephs. Vassar edged back in with strong serving to tie at 16-16. Williams called a timeout down 16-18. Vassar continued their lead at 17-22. Corbeil tipped to add a point at 19-22. Vassar won the fourth set 25-21.
The fifth set proved to be the deciding match between the Brewers and the Ephs. Up 2-1, Jasuta earned an outside kill. The Ephs continued fighting to edge up 5-1. Vassar then called a timeout. Up 6-4, Albright earned a kill with a set from Newton. After a long rally with attacks from both sides, the game was tied at 7-7. Vassar took the lead at 8-7 which marked a change of sides. Williams called a timeout down 7-9. Down 8-10, Jasuta powered through the Vassar block to earn another kill. At 11-11, Vassar called a timeout.
Williams gained an edge at 13-11. At 14-11, Ostrow had a precise kill from the outside. At Williams' match point, after a strong floater serve by Benell an attack error by Vassar ended the set at 15-11. The Ephs (1-0) edged passed the Vassar College Brewers (0-5) in five sets (22-25, 25-17, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11) in their first game of the 2016 season.
The Ephs hope to continue to momentum with the Union College Invitational on September 9th and 10th against Union, Susquehanna, Oneonta, and Ramapo.