Medford, Massachusetts –– Williams (2-4, 0-1 in NESCAC) fell to an undefeated Tufts (6-0, 1-0 in NESCAC) in four sets (11-25, 23-25, 25-22, 14-25) in their first conference match up of the season.
Last season, the Ephs lost to Tufts in their season home opener in a four set game (25-27, 25-18, 22-25, 13-25). The Ephs were hoping to beat the Jumbos at an away match on Friday night.
The first set began with starters Ally Ostrow '19, Morgan Richman '19, Roxi Corbeil '19, Tori Jasuta '17, Daiana Takashima '20, setter Natalie Albright '20, and libero Caitie Benell '17. Jasuta started things off strong with a quick kill after an assist from Corbeil to set the score at 1-0. At 4-4, the Ephs subbed in Nica Kovalcik '19. Down 7-8, Corbeil got a kill off of a set from Newton. Tufts soon went on a run with multiple attacks and the Ephs found themselves at a 7-15 deficit. The Ephs struggled with scoring during much of the first set. Ultimately, after many strong attacks by Tufts, the Ephs lost the first set 11-25.
The start of the second set brought new energy to the court with strong volleys on both sides. At 5-5, Ostrow had a big kill from the outside. Up 6-5, Benell got a kill from the back row. Tied at 9-9, Jasuta continued the momentum with strong plays at the net. Tufts called a timeout down by one at 10-9. The Ephs went on a run back from the timeout and continued to push the tempo. At 12-10, Benell earned a service ace. Tufts responded with quick defense and swift offensive plays. After multiple kills by Tufts, the score was tied at 18-18. Down 18-20, Williams called a timeout. At 19-22, Tufts had a strong double block on the Eph's outside hitter. The Ephs worked hard to tie things up at 22-22 after a kill by Ostrow. Tufts then decided to call their second timeout of the match. After kills on both sides, the score inched up to 23-23. After a kill from Tufts, Williams called their final timeout at Tuft's match point. Back from the timeout, a service ace from Tufts ended the second match with a loss for the Ephs 23-25.
Tufts went on an early run during the start of the third set. Down 3-4, Jasuta had an impressive kill at the left pin. The Ephs found themselves up 7-4 after multiple attack errors from the Tufts front row. At 16-16, the Ephs were looking to stay alive while Tufts was attempting to clinch their final set of the match. Jasuta continued to be a force at the net with a kill at 17-17. Up 22-20, Ostrow had a kill after a controlled set from Newton. Williams continued the momentum and won the third set 25-22 with a service ace from Takashima at match point.
The fourth set began with a large run by Tufts. Down 4-11, the Ephs faced a challenging deficit. At 6-14, Kovalcik got a kill. At 8-14, Erin Denham '19 earned a kill in the middle. Kovalcik continued to be a presence at the net and earned another kill at 12-17. Ultimately, Tufts continued their run and won the fourth and final set 14-25.
Head Coach of the Ephs Christi Kelsey reflected on the game. She explained, "I thought out group did some really nice things tonight. I really like how we responded after set one to battle and pick up our competitive mentality. We saw some positive plays from everyone and we know we have a lot of opportunity to grow too. We are looking forward to another chance against Bowdoin."
The Ephs hope to get some rest tonight as they face another NESCAC challenger tomorrow. The Ephs will travel to Brunswick, Maine to play Bowdoin at 2pm. Last season, the Ephs lost to Bowdoin in a five set heartbreaker (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 7-15) during the NESCAC Championship at Bowdoin. The Ephs are looking forward to an exhilarating weekend of conference play.