Williamstown, MA –– The Ephs (8-10, 4-5 in NESCAC) faced rival Amherst (12-8, 3-5 in NESCAC) in Chandler on Saturday afternoon at 1:00PM. The starters for the Ephs were Ally Ostrow, Alex Newton, Natalie Albright, Erin Denham, Tess Richman, Morgan Richman, and libero Daiana Takashima.
The first set was off to a fiery start as Amherst took the early edge up 2-0. Tess Richman responded with a kill from the middle and a quick set from Newton to put up a point for Williams. At 2-2, Takashima earned an ace. During a long rally, Denham and Albright had strong attacks from the outside and middle respectively. Corbeil showed impressive hitting coverage and had a big dig to keep the ball in play. Amherst kept control of the energy and took the lead at 6-3. The Ephs responded and Corbeil powered through the Amherst block to earn a point. Down 7-4, Allison Frison entered for the Ephs. Down by five, the Ephs called a timeout at 9-4.
Back from the timeout, the Ephs had an opportunity to reset. Ostrow had a big kill to line from the outside at 10-6. Ostrow tipped from the right side to surprise the Amherst defense and add a point. But, the Amherst offense responded with a tip of their own. The Ephs narrowed the deficit with strong serving from Newton. Denham had a strong hit from the right side to maintain the energy. At 15-13, Newton had a surprise set to Amherst instead of setting her hitters and earned a point from the switch up tip. The Ephs called another timeout down by six at 19-13.
Back on the court, the Ephs survived a long rally to add a point. Down 19-15, Alicia Blanco entered to serve for the Ephs. The Ephs maintained their cool as their narrowed the deficit to four. At 21-17, Amherst called a timeout. With the ball back in play, both teams were hoping to set the tone for the match and win the first set. Ostrow made a statement with an ace to the back line of the Amherst court. The Ephs were down by two at 22-20. Amherst had a strong kill from the outside to maintain their lead at 23-20. Amherst won the first set 25-20 after a long rally.
At the start of the second set, the Ephs were hoping to turn to recover from their loss in the first set. Newton started the set with a strong serve. At 1-1, Allison Frison entered for the Ephs. Corbeil had a powerful hit and was able to power through the Amherst block to add a point. Frison earned an ace with a short float serve. Albright and Corbeil teamed up for a cohesive block on the Amherst outside hitter to grow their lead at 4-1. Amherst called a timeout with the Ephs up 6-1.
Back from the timeout, the Ephs were looking excited as they kept up the momentum. The fans in Chandler were captivated as both teams showed off strong hitting and controlled defense. Up 8-3, Blanco entered for the Ephs. Tess Richman and Ally Ostrow had an impressive block on the Amherst outside hitter up 12-5. Amherst closed their deficit at 13-9 after a big kill from the middle. Amherst pushed ahead to narrow their deficit. The Ephs took a timeout with Amherst down by one at 14-13.
Maintaining a slight edge, the Ephs were hoping to grow their lead late in the second set. Albright dumped the ball from the middle at 16-14. Amherst tied things up at 16-16 after a middle kill. Corbeil attacked from the right side. The Ephs kept up the tie at 17-17 after a tip from Ostrow. Amherst took a late edge up 20-17 after a deep kill from the right side hitter. The Ephs called a timeout down by four at 21-17.
Amherst dumped the ball over to maintain their lead. Amherst had another tip up 23-18. Tess Richman had a strong kill from the middle as the Ephs pushed back down 23-20. After a kill by Mia Weindland, Amherst called a timeout at 23-21. Amherst won the second set 25-21.
At the start of the third set, Albright earned a point with a kill from the middle. Allison Frison entered to serve for the Ephs at 1-0. Takashima had a big dig on serve receive to set Corbeil up for a middle hit up 4-2. At 4-4, Ostrow had a kill to line from the outside. Amherst had a quick outside kill to tie things up at 5-5. Amherst put up strong blocks to take the lead at 7-6. Denham had a smooth outside kill to tie at 7-7. After a long rally, Amherst pushed ahead with a middle kill to keep the tie at 9-9. The Ephs called a timeout down by three at 12-9.
Back from the timeout, Corbeil had a kill from the middle to narrow the deficit with a set from Newton. Down by one at 12-11, Ostrow got a tip from the outside. Down by one at 14-13, Albright earned an ace for the Ephs. Amherst called a timeout tied at 14-14. Back on the court, Roxi Corbeil and Tess Richman teamed up for a big block on the Amherst outside hitter. Down by one at 18-17, Newton and T. Richman teamed up for another block. Tess Richman dug a hit from Amherst that Newton converted into a kill down 19-18. Williams took a critical edge at 22-21 as they took control of the momentum. Amherst took a timeout down by two at 22-20. Back on the court, Denham powered through the Amherst block to add a critical point for the Ephs. Newton earned a service ace to put the Ephs at match point. The Ephs won the third set 25-21.
The fourth set began with intensity in Chandler as this was a must-win for the Ephs to get to the decisive fifth set. Amherst put up a big block tied at 2-2. Amherst took an early lead up 5-3. Allison Frison had a big dig for the Ephs but Amherst responded with a kill. Ostrow tipped and followed up with a cross-court shot but Amherst won the point. Down 8-5, Newton earned a kill to narrow the deficit. Tess Richman tipped the ball over down by one. Ostrow earned a service ace to tie things up at 8-8. Amherst called a timeout to talk things over. The Ephs trailed at 13-11. Ostrow had a strong dig on an Amherst hit but ultimately Amherst took the point with another kill. Williams called a timeout down by three at 14-11. Albright got a kill from the middle down 15-12. Down by two at 16-14, Albright earned another kill in the middle. Blanco entered to serve for the Ephs. Amherst pushed ahead up 20-16 after a kill from the outside. Amherst called a timeout up by four at 21-17. Back from the timeout, Amherst pushed ahead. Amherst won the fourth and final set 25-17.
Head Coach of the Ephs Christi Kelsey remarked the match. She explained, "Today was a rough one for our team. I thought we did some things well at times but to Amherst's credit, they made us continue to work for every point we earned and even after we won the third set they still remained confident in playing for every point and we were a bit inconsistent in our execution overall."
Coach Kelsey added that she is enthusiastic moving forward in the season. She emphasized, "I'm really proud of this group as I think we continue to make some great strides in how we can be in what our execution looks like on court. Even after the loss today, I still think we are playing some of our best volleyball yet this season which is encouraging as we continue to build on that level of play over the next two weeks!"