Middletown, CT – For the first conference matchup of the season, Williams (4-2, 0-1 NESCAC) played last year's winners of the NESCAC Tournament, Wesleyan University (3-1, 1-0 NESCAC).
In the first set, Williams and Wesleyan started off with a back and forth attack. The set was tied at 11-11 when the Ephs built a three-point lead behind two errors and a kill. The ultimate momentum shift resulted from Williams winning long rallies at the net to extend their lead to 18-12. Wesleyan made the set interesting and closed the gap to a one-point game by an error and six kills, three of which came from Wesleyan junior Nicole Hilton. Williams senior Tess Richman cut off the Wesleyan run with a tremendous block, and this was the energy needed for Williams to win 25-21.
The second set opened up with more back and forth play. Wesleyan built a nine-point lead behind six kills, two errors, and an ace. This run was highlighted by two kills from Wesleyan junior Mia Hogan. The Ephs closed the deficit to two points behind six kills and two errors; Williams senior Mia Weinland was a major factor behind this come back with three kills. However, Wesleyan had built a strong enough lead to win the second set 25-21 and tie the match up at 1-1.
The third set started off with Williams leading 6-0 behind a kill, an ace, and four errors by Wesleyan. The lead was put into question throughout the set as both Wesleyan and Williams capitalized on numerous errors, kills, and aces. The set ended up tied at 17-17 behind long rallies and stellar defensive plays by both teams. Williams junior Erin Denham contributed four powerful kills to keep adding to the Ephs point column. Two errors gave Wesleyan the two-point lead, and from there, Wesleyan pulled away to a 25-20 win with three big kills by Mia Hogan.
In the fourth set, Wesleyan jumped out to a 5-1 lead behind three kills, an error, and an ace. For Williams, Tess Richman had two kills, Mia Weinland had one, and freshman Olivia Hindy had one kill to bring the Ephs within two points. Wesleyan went on a five-point run behind the serving of Mia Hogan, and this proved to be the momentum needed for Wesleyan to surge to a 25-17 victory. The Wesleyan leaders were Nicole Hilton with thirteen kills, forty-three assists by junior Kaira Muraoka-Robertson, and twenty digs by sophomore Phia Bellizzi. Williams was led by thirteen kills by Mia Weinland, twenty-four assists by junior Alex Newton, and eighteen digs by junior Daiana Takashima.
Head coach, Christi Kelsey, remarked, "Tonight's match was a good conference opener for us in a lot of ways to keep learning about what our strengths are and where we can keep getting better. Wesleyan has a good team and are obviously defending champs of the conference, but I like how we played in several stretches of the match tonight. Tomorrow will give us another chance to grow and adjust and we are looking forward to the opportunity!"
The Ephs are back in action for another conference matchup on Saturday, September 15th at Connecticut College at 2:00 P.M.