Schenectady, New York – Williams College (7-2) took on Skidmore College (3-5) for the first match of the second day of play at the Union College Tournament. The second set of the day proved to be the deciding set for Williams's sweep over Skidmore.
In the second set, Williams went on an early five-point run behind a Skidmore error, a service ace from senior Natalie Albright, a kill from junior Lauren Barry, a kill from freshman Gracie Guidotti, and a kill from freshman Christina Conforti. This run gave Williams the lead 13-5, and the Ephs never broke stride. Together, Williams hustled and kept potential Skidmore comebacks at bay by using a wide array of attackers. The most impressive Williams rally was an eight-point one which was not broken by two Skidmore substitutions or a Skidmore timeout. The intelligent, strong serving of Williams senior Alexandra Newton and two blocks by freshman Anna Tosolini highlighted this run and gave the Ephs a 21-7 lead. From here, Williams coasted to the 25-11 victory. Skidmore was highlighted by three kills from senior Katy Ehnstrom.
The first set was close until Skidmore went on a five-point run to take the lead 16-12 and break a Williams run. To obtain this lead, Skidmore used two Williams errors, a kill from senior Sophia Hettler, a kill from senior Lauren Wolters, and a kill from Katy Ehnstrom. Williams then gathered themselves and used a kill from Christina Conforti and two Skidmore errors to chip away at the lead. It was then anyone's set, but Skidmore began inching away after a kill from freshman Alex Estey and a kill from freshman Chelsea Winegar to take the lead 20-19. The Ephs huddled together, and Williams then forced three straight errors and utilized a monstrous block from junior Lauren Barry and Natalie Albright and a kill from Natalie Albright to stop the Skidmore run. Williams's Lauren Barry closed the door on the set with a powerful kill for a win of 25-22.
Going into the third set, Williams was riding the momentum from the first two. The Ephs leaped to a 9-5 lead after four Skidmore errors, a service ace from junior Allison Frison, two kills from freshman Kiley Wallace, a kill from sophomore Olivia Hindy, and a kill from Anna Tosolini. Skidmore never posed a threat to the Williams lead, but Skidmore went on a late three-point run, the largest run Skidmore was able to string together. This was led by a kill from Chelsea Winegar and two Williams errors which narrowed the Williams lead to 18-13. The Ephs looked to be cruising to a victory, but Skidmore chipped away and narrowed the Williams lead even more to 22-19. However, Williams used a timeout to collect themselves and surge to the 25-19 victory with two kills from Lauren Barry and a kill from Christina Conforti. Skidmore leaders were: Katy Ehnstrom with six kills, Lauren Wolters with thirteen assists, and freshman Frida Anguiano with seventeen digs. Williams leaders were: Lauren Barry with seven kills, Grace Guidotti with fifteen assists, and senior Daiana Takashima with fifteen digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey commented: "Overall, there were some awesome highlights from today from our crew both collectively and individually. We had a solid performance from a lot of folks from across the board in this match."
For the second match of the day, Williams took on Coast Guard (8-3). To determine the winner of this match, it took a fifth set, and Coast Guard ultimately was victorious over Williams.
The fifth set began with Coast Guard utilizing the momentum from the fourth set win to establish an early lead. Coast Guard sophomore Amanda Dake's two kills helped provide this 6-2 lead. However, Williams was determined to not let the set run away and substituted for Anna Tosolini. The Ephs then forced a Coast Guard error, and a service ace from Erin Denham, a kill from Kiley Wallace, and a block from Anna Tosolini and Lydia Kurtz tied the set at 6-6. A Coast Guard timeout and block from Amanda Dake and sophomore Mary Sweet gave Coast Guard back the lead and energy. Williams was unable to respond with a rally, and Coast Guard cruised to the 15-8 win.
In the first set, Coast Guard went on an early six-point run behind impressive serving from sophomore Maddie James to take the lead 7-2. Although Williams chipped away and used three Coast Guard errors and a kill from Olivia Hindy to take a one-point lead, 12-11, Coast Guard collected themselves and proceeded on a six-point run. This effort was highlighted by a kill from freshman Noelle Tursky, a kill from senior Angelou Dunton, two kills from Maddie James, and two Williams errors for a Coast Guard lead of 18-13. Williams closed the Coast Guard lead to 18-16 after two Coast Guard errors and a kill from Erin Denham, but the lead was insurmountable as Coast Guard ultimately took the first set 25-19.
In the second set, Williams was determined to bounce back and did just that. A nine-point run led by a block from Olivia Hindy, a block from Olivia Hindy and Erin Denham, two kills from Erin Denham, a kill from Alexandra Newton, and four Coast Guard errors gave the Ephs a lead of 15-5. Williams then never allowed Coast Guard to earn more than one point, and Williams cruised to the 25-12 victory.
With both teams holding a set apiece, the third set was the momentum shifter. It was incredibly back and forth as early on neither team was able to build and hold a lead. The energy and hustle in the gym was high as both teams knew the gravity of the outcome of this set. The turning point came with Williams up 15-14, and Coast Guard Mary Sweet slammed a kill down to tie the set at 15-15. Coast Guard began to push ahead after a kill from Angelou Dunton and a Williams error to take the lead 17-15, but Williams took a timeout to recollect themselves. After a quick talk about how to proceed, the Ephs buckled down and forced a Coast Guard error to reverse the tide. Williams's Lydia Kurtz powered two kills down, and another Coast Guard error gave the Ephs the lead 19-17. Coast Guard would not go away and tied the set back up at 19-19, but Williams relied on a kill from Lydia Kurtz, a kill Erin Denham, a kill from Natalie Albright to take back the lead, 23-19. Williams had all the energy and made a final push to win 25-21.
The fourth set was intense with long rallies of hustle, loud cheers, and impressive athleticism. The set had six ties, and neither team could break away from the other until the 16-16 tie. Williams went on a four-point run by utilizing two service aces from Natalie Albright, a kill from Erin Denham, and a block from Alexandra Newton and Olivia Hindy to take the 20-16 lead. Coast Guard threatened this lead by rallying together behind a kill from Noelle Tursky, a kill from Maddie James, and a service ace from senior Makenna Martin to eliminate the Williams lead to 21-20. Williams then managed to score two more points by a kill from Kiley Wallace and a service ace from Erin Denham to hold a 23-20 lead. It looked to be Williams's set, but Coast Guard went on a four-point run with a kill from Noelle Tursky, a kill from Maddie James, and two Williams errors to take the lead 24-23. Although Williams tied the set at 24-24 after a kill from Lydia Kurtz, Coast Guard still held the momentum and surged to the 26-24 victory over the Ephs.
Coast Guard leaders were: Noelle Tursky with twelve kills, Makenna Martin with thirty assists, and Amanda Dake and Noelle Tursky with twenty digs each. Williams leaders were: Erin Denham with thirteen kills, Alexandra Newton with thirty-two assists, and Allison Frison with twenty-four digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey remarked: "Coast Guard was another great test for us. We struggled a bit in the first set, but it was awesome to see our team make some shifts and step up to another level in sets two and three. In set four, we were playing well, but Coast Guard stuck right with us and went on a run. We battled in the fifth and final set but just ran out of gas. There are a lot of great takeaways, and we're excited for our third week!"
The Ephs are back in action on Friday, September 20th for the first conference and the first home match of the season against Trinity College at 7:00 EDT.