Poughkeepsie, NY – Williams College (4-1) traveled to Poughkeepsie, New York to take on Vassar College (3-4) for a midweek, non-conference matchup. The Ephs reigned victorious and completed the sweep over the Brewers after an intense, comeback win in the first set.
During the first set of the match, Vassar built an early lead and was sitting comfortably, looking to make a break away with the 17-12 lead over the Ephs. This lead was built by multiple Vassar players, but sophomore Jamie Kesten led the charge with three kills. However, Williams did not lose their composure and gathered themselves for the comeback. The momentum swung back to the Ephs after a kill each from sophomore Lydia Kurtz and junior Lauren Barry along with the following Williams substitution for senior Alex Newton and freshman Kiley Wallace. These moves proved to be the difference maker as the Ephs gained confidence and played aggressively to pull the set within one point. Vassar, on the other hand, was determined to not lose their lead and relied on kills from sophomore Claire Bialek and sophomore Sara Ehnstrom to maintain the lead. Williams senior Erin Denham came up clutch with a late kill that tied the match at 22-22. Although Vassar came up with a huge block to take the one-point lead, the Ephs were not dissuaded. Both teams battled for the last few points with phenomenal hustle and aggressive swings, but the tide turned in Williams's favor after Lydia Kurtz and fellow sophomore Olivia Hindy had two kills in a row to take the one-point lead, 26-25. Eph Kiley Wallace then sealed the deal with her powerful swing, and the Ephs came out of the duel victorious, 27-25.
Although Williams was successful in the first match, the competitive air in the gym did not disappear with the start of the second set. Vassar was not intimidated, and the set began in a very back and forth fashion. Williams Kiley Wallace had two monstrous blocks, one with Olivia Hindy and the other with senior Natalie Albright for the Ephs to obtain an early energy boost. However, Vassar responded with a kill apiece from sophomore Claire Basler-Chang and senior Jennifer Kerbs. Williams did not begin to pull away until the Ephs held the lead 9-8 and made the substitution for Kiley Wallace and Alex Newton. Once Williams was leading 12-10, the Ephs went on a six-point run by capitalizing on three Vassar errors, a kill from Erin Denham, and two kills from Natalie Albright. From here, Vassar never threatened the Williams lead, the closest point differential was six points, and Williams coasted to a 25-15 win.
Heading into the third set, Williams was sitting in a great position. Vassar hung around in the beginning of the set with the help of two kills from senior Colette Cambey, but Williams capitalized on a kill from Lydia Kurtz to pull within one point of Vassar's 7-6 lead. The Ephs proceeded to go on six-point run led by senior Daiana Takashima's impressive serving. Vassar then took a timeout, but Takashima responded with another six straight serves to help expand the Eph lead to 17-7. Vassar mustered a four-point rally behind three Williams errors, a kill from sophomore Madison Wilson, and two kills form Colette Cambey to narrow the Williams lead to 22-18. Williams responded with a kill from Lydia Kurtz, and the Ephs recollected themselves to coast to the 25-19 victory, claiming the sweep. For this match, Vassar leaders were: Colette Cambey with eight kills, Madison Wilson with fifteen assists, and Madison Wilson and freshman Kasey Drake with eleven digs each. Williams leaders were: Lydia Kurtz with fourteen kills, Alexandra Newton with twenty-one assists, and Daiana Takashima with sixteen digs.
Eph head coach Christi Kelsey remarked: "In the first set, we weren't executing as cleanly as we could have, and to Vassar's credit, they got off to a great start. We were proud of the fact that our crew stayed focused and continued to work on small details that allowed us to go on a late run. In the second and third sets, we stepped up our defense and ball control to get into a rhythm in system. Overall, we were happy with the steady focus and consistent volleyball through these sets. It was a great road win for us, and we are excited to prepare for this weekend!"
Williams is back in action for the weekend of September 13th-14th at the Union College Tournament in Schenectady, New York. On Friday, September 13th, the Ephs face SUNY Plattsburgh at 5:30 EDT and Union College at 7:30 EDT. On Saturday, September 14th, the Ephs take on Skidmore College at 12:00 EDT and Coast Guard at 2:00 EDT.