Brunswick, Maine –– Williams (3-4, 1-1 in NESCAC) continued their weekend of conference play with a Saturday afternoon match at Bowdoin (4-3, 0-2 in NESCAC). Last night, the Ephs suffered a four-set loss (11-25, 23-25, 25-22, 14-25) to Tufts (7-0, 1-0 in NESCAC). 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. On Saturday afternoon, the Ephs defeated the Polar Bears in a five set win (25-23, 16-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13)
The starters for the Ephs were Ally Ostrow '19, Morgan Richman '19, Roxi Corbeil '19, Tori Jasuta '17, Daiana Takashima '20, and Natalie Albright '20. The first set began with a kill by Jasuta and a service ace by Benell. Up 3-1, Richman got a kill from the right pin. The teams were neck and neck with strong attacks on both sides and steady defensive play. The Ephs pushed ahead with Jasuta continuing to be an offensive strength with a kill at 10-10. At 14-13, Richman earned another kill from the right pin. Down 17-18, Jasuta attacked from the outside to earn another point for the Ephs. The Ephs played consistently during the first set and won the set 25-23.
The Ephs entered the second set feeling confident. At 9-9, Erin Denham '20 earned a kill with a set from Newton. The second set had many attack errors from both teams. Bowdoin was able to go on multiple runs with quick kills and varied offensive plays. Down 12-18, Ostrow earned a kill off of an assist by Corbeil. Ostrow brought in another point down 15-23. Williams lost the second set 16-25.
The third set began with the Ephs trailing early. After being down 3-6, Jasuta helped the Ephs tie things up at 6-6 after a service ace. At 10-10, Kovalcik got a kill off of a set from Newton. Bowdoin took the lead at 10-14 after attack errors by the Ephs. Down 13-17, Morgan Richman got a kill. Down 16-20, Richman earned a point at the net. Ultimately, Tufts took the third set 20-25.
With Williams down two sets to one, the fourth set was a critical win. The fourth set started slow with the Ephs trailing 9-4. After a service ace by Benell and a kill from Albright, Williams fought back to set the score at 10-8. Down 11-9, Denham got a kill. Jasuta continued to showcase her offensive skills with a kill at 11-15. Newton provided consistent sets to position the hitters and was a critical component of the Ephs offense. Jasuta had back to back kills at 15-16 and 16-17. After long rallies and quick hits from both teams, the score was tied at 22-22. Up 23-23, Denham blocked a Bowdoin hitter to add a point to the score. A kill by Albright and a Bowdoin setting error allowed the Ephs to win the fourth set 25-23.
The fifth set was a winner-take-all battle. The Ephs and the Polar Bears went to five games in both of their match-ups last year. However, in both the regular season and the NESCAC Championship, Bowdoin came out victorious. This season, the Ephs were prepared to face off once again n a fifth set. At 1-1, Corbeil earned a kill after a set from Newton. Jasuta earned an outside kill after an assist by Morgan Richman. Tied at 5-5, Newton got a kill with an assist from Ostrow. At 10-10, Jasuta had a big block on the right pin hitter. Kills from Bowdoin set the score at 13-13. The next two points had fate hanging in the balance. A service error from Bowdoin and a kill from Denham at match point gave the Ephs the win at 15-13.
The Ephs' head coach Christi Kelsey was enthusiastic about today's win. She exclaimed, "I am so incredibly proud of how hard this team fought to pull out a win tonight. We keep getting faced with some new challenges each match and the team continues to show its resiliency and belief in each other. Bowdoin is a strong team and to come away with a win on opening weekend of NESCACs is huge."
Next week, the Ephs are looking forward to a home game on Tuesday night against MCLA at 7:00pm. The Ephs are challenging rival Amherst next Friday night at Amherst at 7:00pm.