Middlebury, VT – Williams College (12-11, 5-5 NESCAC) faced Middlebury (17-5, 7-3 NESCAC) to conclude regular season play. A close third set, won by Middlebury, proved to be the decisive factor in Middlebury defeating Williams in four sets.
With the match tied at one set apiece, both teams were looking at the third set to be the decisive momentum shift. Much of the set was very close with little runs by both teams; hustle plays from both teams created an energetic atmosphere. The substitution of Williams junior Erin Denham and her two powerful kills proved to be what the Ephs needed to take the lead, but a kill from Middlebury freshman Jane Nelson shifted the momentum back to Middlebury who ended up taking the set 25-23.
In the first set, Middlebury started out strong with a lead of 6-1 over Williams College; this was led by two kills from freshman Maggie Wise and senior Sarah Staver. The Ephs channeled their play from last week and battled to get back into the set, eventually knotting the score at 15-15. From here, the Ephs were in their element and only gave up four points to Middlebury. The final push to the Williams victory, 25-19, was led by Erin Denham and senior Roxi Corbeil with two kills each. Erin Denham led Williams with five kills in this set.
Williams started off the second set strong behind three kills from Erin Denham, but Middlebury came storming back in and went on a seven-point run led by two kills from Sarah Staver. Middlebury took the four-point lead and looked as though they were in the driver's seat; however, Williams did not give up and utilized the substitution of freshman Lydia Kurtz to tie the score at 17-17. Although Williams was able to fight their way back into the set, Middlebury regrouped and cruised to the win 25-21.
In the fourth set, Williams was looking to rebound and utilized the serving of sophomore Allison Frison to jump out to a three-point lead. However, Middlebury went on a four-point run behind the serving of Sarah Staver to reclaim the lead. From here, it was a battle with powerful swings and serves from both teams. The key energy shift was a kill by Middlebury freshman Corley Doyle as Middlebury then used this to never lose the lead. Middlebury won this set 25-19. Middlebury leaders were: senior Isabel Sessions with twenty-three kills, junior Chellsa Ferdinand with fifty-one assists, and junior Gigi Alper with twenty digs. Williams leaders were: Erin Denham and senior Mia Weinland with sixteen kills each, junior Alex Newton with thirty-three assists, and Allison Frison with twenty-two digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey remarked, "This was a hard-front match tonight with a lot of really great things from both our team and from Middlebury. I continue to be proud of our team for how they have gotten better, are trying to improve ever week, and are certainly continuing to fight in every set to battle for the win. If we can sharpen up our consistency on a few plays, lots of really great things are ahead for this amazing crew!"
Williams will play in the NESCAC tournament next weekend at a time and place to be announced.