New Paltz, NY – Williams College (3-1) concluded play at the New Paltz Hawk Invitational with a split. The victory came against Mount St. Mary College, MSMC, (2-4) while the Ephs dropped the second match to SUNY New Paltz (4-3).
MSMC had found their groove early in the third set and battled Williams. It was an extraordinarily back and forth set with seven lead changes and looked to be anyone's set. Williams freshman, Kiley Wallace started the set off with a big kill, but MSMC did not falter or fall far behind. MSMC tied the score at 10-10. The Knights then went on a four-point run, but Williams regained form. The Ephs rallied behind stellar ball distribution and grit to take a 20-19 lead. From here, Williams saw victory in sight and stayed calm even when the Knights tied the score at 23-23. A kill from Eph sophomore, Lydia Kurtz and an error from MSMC secured a Williams victory, 25-23.
Williams came ready to play and jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first set behind the strong serving of Lydia Kurtz. This was the confidence boost Williams needed to open the set and MSMC never recovered. Intelligent serving placement by Williams's Lydia Kurtz, junior, Allison Frison, and freshman, Gracie Guidotti gave the Ephs the opportunity to run a fast-paced offense and propelled the Ephs to a 25-8 victory.
Riding their momentum, Williams controlled the beginning of the second set as well. Again, Williams serving was key to their success as Anna Tosolini's serves fostered an early five-point Williams run. MSMC led by Jenny Picarillo's serves fought back. The Knights threatened the Williams lead, with the Ephs up 18-16, however Williams senior, Erin Denham had a crucial kill to reset the Ephs' mindset and the Ephs collected a 25-19 win. MSMC leaders were: senior, Morgan Burke and freshman, Grace Riddle with seven kills each; senior, Emily Mazzurco with sixteen assists; Emily Mazzurco with nine digs. Williams leaders were: Lydia Kurtz with nine kills; Gracie Guidotti with twenty assists; Allison Frison with thirteen digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey commented: "We had some great moments but have to work more on executing for longer stretches of points especially when we get pushed."
During the second match of the day, it was tied at one apiece, and energy in the gym was high. New Paltz jumped out to 7-1 lead in the third set by capitalizing on Williams errors. Williams kept the New Paltz lead to a minimum by chipping away until a huge service ace by Allison Frison tied the set at 15-15. Unfortunately for the Ephs, New Paltz bounced back behind sophomore Courtney Gebhardt's two kills, shifting the momentum back to the Hawks. New Paltz posted a 25-21 win.
The second match of the day began with New Paltz racing to a 6-0 lead behind sophomore, Nicole Cooke's serves, and Williams was never able to recover. The Ephs never came closer than three points. New Paltz's serving and distribution of the ball was too much for Williams as the hosts secured a 25-17 victory.
In the second set, Williams was not discouraged and went on an early nine-point run establishing a 10-3 lead. This was accomplished through senior, Natalie Albright's impressive serving. New Paltz was unable to recover, and Williams senior, Daiana Takashima's four service aces highlighted this match. The Ephs worked together and strung together impressive digs, beautiful sets, and powerful kills to win 25-9.
Heading into the fourth set, Williams was ready to battle and did just that. A kill by Williams sophomore, Olivia Hindy only had the Ephs down 8-7, and a back and forth campaign ensued. New Paltz's rallied, and Courtney Gebhardt's crucial kills led to the Hawks being up 20-13 over the Ephs. Williams gathered themselves and capitalized on a New Paltz error to reverse the tide. The Ephs used Allison Frison and Erin Denham's serving, kills from Olivia Hindy and Lydia Kurtz, and Hawk errors to close the gap to New Paltz only being up 23-22. Unfortunately, Hawk senior, Maddie Van Pelt responded with two kills to push New Paltz to a 25-23 win. New Paltz leaders were: Courtney Gebhardt with eleven kills; junior Haley Timarky with thirty assists; Haley Timarky and freshman Mia Waddell with fifteen digs each. Williams leaders were: Erin Denham with thirteen kills; senior, Alexandra Newton with twenty-eight assists; Daiana Takashima with twenty-two digs.
Regarding the weekend and play against New Paltz, head coach Christi Kelsey responded: "We are disappointed about the loss, but they are a strong team in the New York region and played really well. This has been a strong start to our preseason for everyone, and overall, this was a good opening weekend for us. I'm excited to see how we build off this going forward into week two."
Williams will be back in action on Wednesday, September 11th at 7:30 PM EDT against Vassar College.