Williamstown, MA – After a busy weekend on the road the Ephs (12-10, 5-4 in NESCAC) were excited to return to Chandler Gym for their final weekend of the regular season. The Ephs faced Wesleyan (Conn.) (15-6, 6-3 in NESCAC) on Friday at 8pm and Trinity (Conn.) on Saturday at 2pm. On Saturday, the Wesleyan Cardinals will travel to Amherst, MA match to battle Amherst (15-8, 6-3 in NESCAC). This weekend is a big weekend for the rest of the NESCAC, as Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams began the weekend boasting 5-3 as their NESCAC record. It remains to be seen which of the Little Three teams will shift in the standings to solidify the conference rankings going into the post-season. Friday night was also Senior Night for the Ephs as the team decked out Chandler in purple and gold to celebrate the accomplishments of senior Co-Captains Tori Jasuta '17 and Caitie Benell '17.
The starters for the Ephs were Ally Ostrow '19, Morgan Richman '19, Tori Jasuta '17, Daiana Takashima '20, Alex Newton '20, Natalie Albright '20, and libero Caitie Benell '17. The first set began with Wesleyan getting an early kill as Chandler filled up. At 2-1, Newton switched up her role as setter and earned a kill with an assist from Takashima. Richman earned a kill after a skilled back set from Newton and ultimately the Ephs won the point tied at 3-3. After a long rally, the Ephs tipped to take the lead at 4-3. Both teams showcased strong outside hitters and quick defensive skills. Richman had a kill in the middle but the Cardinals fought back with an outside kill to tie at 5-5. Ostrow tipped from the outside to take the edge for the Ephs. Newton sent over a shoot to tie again at 7-7. The Ephs maintained a steady, narrow lead at 8-7 after a kill by Ostrow from the outside.
Wesleyan regained the lead up 11-10 after a strong outside kill. Jasuta energized Chandler with her signature outside kill to add a point. Jasuta powered through the next attack to narrow the Ephs' deficit. Corbeil added a kill from the right side at 13-13. Jasuta earned another kill to take the lead for the Ephs. Jasuta and Richman teamed up for a double block on the Cardinals' opposite hitter. Corbeil had a big opposite kill at 16-15. Ostrow followed up with an outside kill to line to maintain the Ephs lead. Wesleyan called a timeout down by two at 17-15.
Back from the timeout, Benell earned a service ace to give the Ephs their largest lead of the match at 18-15. With strong digging by Jasuta, the Ephs were able to recover from Wesleyan attacks and Ostrow got a kill to the corner of the Wesleyan side at 19-17. Wesleyan responded but Ostrow powered through the Wesleyan blockers at 21-19. Jasuta earned a quick kill and Ostrow got the following point with a service ace. Wesleyan called another timeout down by four at 23-19. Back on the court, Williams was hoping to push the last two points. Jasuta hit through the Wesleyan double block to put the Ephs at match point. Match point was a service ace by Albright as the Ephs won the first set with a competitive set score of 25-20.
Hoping to maintain the energy in Chandler, the Ephs began with consistent serve receive by Takashima. Albright had a sharp floater serve but the Cardinals took home the point. Richman had a speedy middle kill tied at 2-2. Jasuta added a cross-court kill to give Williams the edge. Up 4-3, Jasuta got a kill to line. Richman added a point with a kill from the middle after a skilled set by Newton. After a long rally, Ostrow brought home the kill from the outside. Benell showed steady digging and Corbeil had multiple attacks from the right pin as Ostrow won the point at 7-3 with a kill from the outside. Wesleyan maintained their energy and narrowed the deficit to 10-7. At 12-7, Wesleyan called a timeout.
With the ball back in play, the Ephs were hoping to expand on their lead. The Cardinals went on a run back form the timeout, but Richman broke their streak up 15-11. Wesleyan had a big middle kill to narrow their deficit to one at 16-15. Albright and Corbeil teamed up for a double block on the Wesleyan outside hitter. Ostrow kept the Ephs edge at 17-16. Williams then called a timeout. Back on the court, Newton and Albright worked together for a double block on the outside hitter. Up 20-18, Ostrow had a low float serve but ultimately the Cardinals capitalized with a kill from the right side. Jasuta responded with a kill from the outside as the Ephs lead by two.
Richman and Jasuta worked together for a double block, and Richman shifted over to work with Newton to ultimately win the point with another block. Wesleyan called another timeout down by three at 22-19. Back on the court, the Ephs aimed to maintain their energy in the race to 25. Jasuta got a kill from the outside after a big serve by Albright. With a quick set from Newton, Jasuta followed through take the Ephs to match point. Williams won the second set after another close match with the set score 25-21 after a kill by Corbeil.
The third set began with Wesleyan taking an early lead at 5-0 after multiple kills. The Ephs broke the streak at 5-1 with an outside kill by Jasuta. Jasuta had a precise cross-court kill to add another point. Wesleyan had a double block at 6-2. Newton capitalized on a dig to showcase a precise jump set that Jasuta utilized to get a kill. Corbeil got a kill from the right side but Wesleyan responded to take home the point up 9-5. Corbeil and Ostrow both dove to recover from Wesleyan attacks at 10-5. The Ephs hung on down by five at 11-6. Williams called a timeout at 12-6. Head Coach of the Cardinals Ben Somera received a yellow card to pause play at 12-7. With the ball back in play, Ostrow earned an outside kill as the Ephs narrowed their deficit to four. Jasuta jumped up for an outside kill at 14-11. Wesleyan called a timeout with their lead narrowed to two at 14-12.
The Ephs electrified Chandler as Jasuta got a kill down by one at 15-14. Richman had a kill down at 17-15. Wesleyan maintained their lead with a kill at 19-15. Erin Denham '20 entered for the Ephs as Jasuta got a kill from the right side to narrow the deficit to three. Wesleyan called a timeout up 19-17. Jasuta earned a service ace back on the court. Wesleyan maintained their edge at 20-18. Williams called a timeout down by four at 23-19. Ostrow got an outside kill as the Ephs hung on. Newton got a kill down 24-21. Jasuta got an outside kill to add another point. Ostrow earned a service ace at 24-23. Ultimately, Wesleyan took the win with a nail-bighting set score of 25-23.
Ostrow kicked off the first set with a kill from the outside. Corbeil had a kill from the right pin to tie at 2-2. Wesleyan went on a run to set the score at 6-2. Williams called a timeout hoping to talk things over after a Wesleyan service ace. Newton and Albright had a double block but Wesleyan took home the point at 7-4. Wesleyan continued with big hits up 10-5. Newton had a service ace as the Ephs climbed at 10-8. Jasuta got a kill at 12-9. Benell showcased strong coverage with multiple digs and Jasuta attacked from the back row as the Ephs took home the point at 12-9. Corbeil had a sweeping kill down 13-10. Takashima entered to serve at 15-11. Newton and Albright teamed up for a block but the Cardinals pushed ahead. Williams called a timeout at 19-12.
Jasuta tied things up for the Ephs at 8-8 with a thundering outside kill. Richman capitalized on an overpass as the Ephs lead by one. Wesleyan then called their first timeout of the set. Back on the court, Wesleyan regained the lead. Richman tipped from the right side to tie at 10-10. Wesleyan took back the lead with a right side kill. The Cardinals had a quick kill at 12-10. Ostrow had a cross-court kill at left pin to tie at 12-12. Williams lead at 13-12 and Wesleyan called their second timeout of the match. The Cardinals tipped to tie at 13-13. After a long rally, Wesleyan earned the point to bring them to match point at 14-13. Williams then called a timeout.
Williams took the edge at 15-14 after big serves by Takashima. Tied up at 15-15, both teams were hoping to push by two. Wesleyan took the lead up 16-15, but Benell had a precise dig as Ostrow converted the set to a tip to tie things up. All of Chandler was standing as Jasuta had an explosive kill from the outside. Wesleyan took the edge at 18-17. Ultimately, Wesleyan won the set and the match 19-17. The set scores were 25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 15-25, 17-19.
Head Coach of the Ephs Christi Kelsey remarked on tonight's close match. She explained, "Tonight was a tough one. We played pretty consistently for the first two sets and to Wesleyan's credit they just hung in there and kept battling. We did the same as well but just a few tough points made the difference in the 5thset."
Coach Kelsey also noted that she was looking forward to tomorrow match up. She added, "Tomorrow we hope to bounce back and I know that the team will be ready for another opportunity."
The Ephs play Trinity College (Conn.) tomorrow in Chandler at 2pm.