Brunswick, ME – Williams College (12-12, 5-6 NESCAC) and Amherst (21-4, 9-2 NESCAC) faced off on the first day of the NESCAC tournament. The decisive set proved to be the intense fifth one where Amherst came up with the victory to defeat Williams.
The fifth set was an intense, back and forth affair as the loser would go home. Both teams battled back and forth and covered a ton of real estate to save balls deflected off of blocks or well-placed tips. The set was tied at 12-12 looking as though it could go either team's way. Amherst's junior Emily Kolsky came up with an authoritative kill to give Amherst the lead, and this was the momentum shift needed for Amherst to surge to the win 15-12.
In the first set, both teams came ready to play, but Williams went on a five-point run at the beginning of the set to establish the tone. This run was led by an Amherst error, an ace from senior Morgan Richman, a kill from junior Erin Denham, a block by freshman Olivia Hindy, and a kill from Olivia Hindy. This gave the Ephs needed energy to never give up the lead although Amherst made things interesting by coming within one point of Williams. In this Amherst effort, Emily Kolsky had six kills, but this wasn't enough for Amherst as Williams won 25-23.
Williams was looking to build off their play in the first set, but Amherst was determined to bounce back. Amherst went on two separate five-point runs to establish a large lead by utilizing multiple players; sophomore Jamie Dailey's five kills was the highlight for Amherst. Williams senior Mia Weinland's play was an attempt for Williams to rally, but the Ephs were in too large of a deficit and were unable to mount a comeback as Amherst won 25-11.
With the score knotted at a set apiece, the third set was essential to a momentum shift and proved to be an intense set. In this set, there were a total of thirteen ties, and play was exciting with many hustle plays and dominating kills from both teams. The key shift didn't come until Amherst broke an 18-18 tie with a kill from Claire Dennis. From here, Amherst did not relinquish the lead and buckled down to win 25-22.
Williams was not going away in the fourth set and hung with Amherst for the beginning. Although Amherst went on a three-point run, Williams was not discouraged and refocused to string together some runs of their own. The key shift was play from Erin Denham as her four kills pumped up the Ephs and pushed them to take the lead 19-18. From here, Williams was in the zone and was not fazed by Amherst's play. Williams energy, focus, and hustle brought them together to win this set 25-21.
With the win, Amherst advanced to play in the semifinal while Williams's season concluded. Amherst leaders were: Emily Kolsky with twenty-four kills, junior Charlotte Duran with forty-three assists, and freshman Skyleur Savage with twenty-nine digs. Williams leaders were: Mia Weinland with sixteen kills, Alex Newton with thirty-eight assists, and junior Daiana Takashima with twenty-four digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey commented, "Words can't really express just how incredibly proud I am of this group. We fought tonight, battled hard, and never ever gave up. This group has been such an inspiration to each other and to us this whole year! It's been one heck of a fun ride from start to finish. I want to say a huge thank you to our five seniors: Roxi, Mia, Ally, Tess, and Morgan. They capped off their careers tonight, and they have been such an awesome group and five outstanding role models in every aspect of what Williams is about on and off the court. We will miss them, but their inspiration and passion for volleyball, and more importantly life as a whole, will live on for seasons to come."