Medford, MA –– The Ephs (11-11, 5-5 NESCAC) took on Wesleyan (18-5, 8-2 NESCAC) in the NESCAC Tournament with the Ephs seeded seventh and the Cardinals seeded second in their quarterfinals match. Wesleyan (18-5, 8-2 NESCAC) is making back-to-back trips to the NESCAC Championship for the first time since the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The Cardinals are hoping to take home their first NESCAC Championship title. Williams holds nine NESCAC Championship titles, and have gone to NESCAC Championships every year since 1999. The Ephs most recent NESCAC Championship was during the 2014 season.
The NESCAC Tournament is hosted by one-seed Tufts (10-0, 20-5 NESCAC) who was the 2016 NESCAC Runner-up. On Friday, Tufts played eighth-seed Bates (12-13, 4-6 NESCAC). Additionally, defending NESCAC Champion and sixth seed Middlebury (16-8, 5-5 NESCAC) faced off against third-seed Bowdoin (14-9, 8-2 NESCAC) and five-seed Amherst (16-9, 5-5 NESCAC) played four-seed Hamilton (14-8, 7-3 NESCAC).
The Ephs began the Friday night match against Wesleyan with high spirits. The starters for the Ephs were Ally Ostrow, Alex Newton, Natalie Albright, Allison Frison, Tess Richman, Mia Weinland, and Daiana Takashima. Wesleyan took the early lead up 3-0 after multiple kills and a service ace. Erin Denham entered for the Ephs down 4-2. The Ephs responded with kills by Ostrow and Denham to narrow to 4-3. However, Wesleyan pushed back and the Ephs called a timeout as the deficit widened to 9-4. Back on the court, Wesleyan continued to push ahead with strong hitting and another service ace. Weinland contributed a kill for the Ephs with an assist by Newton down 14-7. Allison Frison entered for the Ephs. Williams called another timeout down by 16-7 to talk things over. With the ball back in play, the Cardinals maintained the tempo with additional kills. Down 19-8, Albright got a kill off of a set by Newton. Morgan Richman entered for the Ephs down 20-10. Wesleyan won the first set 25-11, despite a kill by Tess Richman at 24-11.
At the start of the second set, the Ephs were hoping to switch up the momentum. The starters in the second set were Alex Newton, Mia Weinland, Erin Denham, Ally Ostrow, Tess Richman, Natalie Albright, and libero Daiana Takashima. Wesleyan lead up 6-1 after strong hitting. Down 8-4, Newton had a kill with an assist from Tess Richman. Williams called a timeout down by seven at 13-6. Williams had a big streak back from the timeout with kills by Ostrow, Denham and Albright. Roxi Corbeil entered for the Ephs at 16-11. Allison Frison and Ariana Altieri entered for the Ephs as the Wesleyan lead grew. Wesleyan had multiple kills to push them to 23. Corbeil got a kill at 23-12 but Wesleyan won the second set 25-14.
The third set had another new set of starters for the Ephs. The starters were Roxi Corbeil, Alex Newton, Natalie Albright, Erin Denham, Tess Richman, Ariana Altieri, and libero Daiana Takashima. Corbeil got an early kill up 2-1. Tess Richman got a kill up 3-2. Morgan Richman entered for the Ephs. Up 6-5, Ostrow got a kill with a set from Newton. Both teams were neck-and-neck and Tess Richman got a kill at 12-12. Williams called a timeout after Wesleyan took the lead at 15-13. Back from the timeout, Wesleyan went on a run and Corbeil got a kill at 21-15. Ariana Altieri and Allison Frison entered for the Ephs. However, Wesleyan continued their streak and won the final set 25-17. The set scores were 25-11, 25-14, and 25-17.
Head Coach of the Ephs Christi Kelsey remarked on the match. She said, "I think tonight was a rough one as we struggled a bit from the start and tried to battle our way back into each set but could never really put enough strings of points together at the right time. Wesleyan played well to their credit and the remaining NESCAC matches should be interesting to see who comes out as champions."
Coach Kelsey also reflected on the season as a whole. She added, "We are incredibly proud of our group and just how far we have come this year. The last month of the season, we really played some of our best volleyball right up until tonight. We are incredibly upbeat about the potential of this group and our future."