WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Host Williams College (11-11/5-5 NESCAC) topped Middlebury College (16-8/5-5 NESCAC) 3-2 in the final regular season match for both teams.
Williams opened the fifth and final set with a 5-1 lead, keyed by three kills from Erin Denham. Middlebury clawed their way back in the match and after an Eph attack error they trailed 9-7. Williams established a five-point lead, 13-8, after a kill by Tess Richman and a service ace by Daiana Takashima. Consecutive kills by Erin Denham and Mia Weinland propelled Williams to the 15-10 fifth set and match win.
Trailing 2-1 in the match, Middlebury came back strong in the fourth set capturing a 25-16 victory and forced the fifth and deciding set. The Panthers erupted late in the match notching 10 of the last 12 points to win 25-16, Eliana Schaeffer and Isabel Sessions led the end of the match run by the Panthers each tallying two kills.
Williams bounced back in the third set to claim a 25-21 win and a 2-1 lead in the match. The Ephs trailed 19-16, but fashioned a seven-point run to assume a 23-19 lead, Alex Newton and Erin Denham sparked the Eph run with two kills each.
Middlebury stormed back to win the second set 25-11 and even the match at one all. Taking advantage of four Eph attack errors and opening the match with a 10-1 lead, the Panthers registered 14 kills with Isabel Sessions and Sarah Staver stringing together three kills each.
At 5-5 in the first set the Ephs rattled off five consecutive points highlighted by two kills by Ally Ostrow. Another five-point surge by the Ephs with three kills by Erin Denham moved the Ephs into an 18-13 lead.
A five-point run by Middlebury with two kills from Becca Raffel brought the panthers back to within 2, down 20-18. An attack error by the Ephs tied the match at 21 all. The Ephs scored the final four points of the match with Denham notching two kills and Natalie Albright and Mia Weinland adding one each to record a 25-21 victor
"I'm not sure if there are enough of the right words to express how incredibly proud I am of this group," said eh head coach Christi Kelsey. "Today was a battle mentally and physically with Middlebury and our team stepped up to the challenge! We have learned a lot about ourselves in the last two months of the regular season and as coaches, the most you can ask for is to be playing some of our best volleyball of the season as we get ready to head into the NESCAC championships. We are looking forward to the opportunity to have another week of play ahead of us and prepare for next weekend!"
The Ephs will return to action on Friday when they travel to Tufts University to play in A NESCAC Quarterfinal Match. Seeded seventh Williams is scheduled to play second seeded Wesleyan at 5:00 p.m. in Medford, Mass.
2017 NESCAC VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Friday, November 3 at No. 1 Tufts
Court 1: No. 8 Bates vs. No. 1 Tufts - 5 p.m.
Court 2: No. 7 Williams vs. No. 2 Wesleyan - 5 p.m.
Court 1: No. 6 Middlebury vs. No. 3 Bowdoin - 8 p.m.
Court 2: No. 5 Amherst vs. No. 4 Hamilton - 8 p.m.
Saturday, November 4 at No. 1 Tufts
Center Court: Winner of No. 1/No. 8 vs. Winner of No. 4/No. 5 - 1:00 p.m.
Center Court: Winner of No. 2/No. 7 vs. Winner of No. 3/No. 6 - 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 5 at No. 1 Tufts
Final - 12 p.m.