Bristol, RI – Williams College (8-3) traveled to Bristol, RI for a non-conference matchup against Roger Williams University (3-7). It took five sets to determine the winner, and Roger Williams came out on top after a long, hard fought battle.
Energy was high as the fifth set began; both teams were prepared to leave it all out on the court. Williams surged to an early 5-1 lead behind two service aces from sophomore Lydia Kurtz, a kill from Lydia Kurtz, a kill from senior Erin Denham, and a Roger Williams error. However, the Hawks were determined to not go down easy and took a timeout to mess with the Ephs' rhythm. This worked as senior Lara Loiacono fired down a kill to reverse the energy back to Roger Williams. Lara Loiacono followed up with another two kills to narrow the Williams lead to 5-4, but a service error from Roger Williams gave Williams back the ball and seemingly the momentum. However, Roger Williams quickly rallied and pushed to take the lead 9-7 behind a kill from senior Maddie Neuberger, two kills from sophomore Katherine Pickard, a block from Katherine Pickard and Maddie Neuberger, and a Williams error. After this run, the energy was in Roger Williams's favor, and the Hawks cruised to a 15-11 victory, ultimately taking the match.
The first set began with both teams battling back and forth for leads, but the turning point came at a 9-9 tie. Roger Williams went on a three-point run behind two Williams errors and a kill from Lara Loiacono to take a 12-9 lead. The Ephs threatened this lead by utilizing a kill from freshman Kiley Wallace, a kill from Erin Denham, and a kill from senior Natalie Albright to pull within one point. However, Roger Williams responded with a kill from Katherine Pickard and then proceeded to go on a five-point run behind another kill from Katherine Pickard, a kill from Maddie Neuberger, a block by Maddie Neuberger, and two Williams errors to take the 19-12 lead over the Ephs. Roger Williams maintained control for the rest of the set and cruised to the 25-15 victory. Williams was highlighted by four kills from Kiley Wallace.
Williams was looking to bounce back in the second set and did just that. The Ephs jumped out to a 6-1 lead behind three Roger Williams errors, a kill from Lydia Kurtz, a service ace from Lydia Kurtz, and a double block from Erin Denham and sophomore Olivia Hindy. Williams utilized this early energy to propel themselves through the middle of the set and held a 19-11 lead when Roger Williams began to mount a comeback. The Hawks used small runs and the stellar play of Maddie Neuberger to chip away at the Williams lead. Williams held a 24-18 lead when Roger Williams narrowed the gap with a kill from sophomore Tori Melanson, a block from Lara Loiacono, and a Williams error. The Ephs took a timeout to collect themselves, and then, a powerful kill from Olivia Hindy sealed the set and a Williams victory, 25-21.
In the third set, the turning point came at the 10-10 tie. Williams senior Alexandra Newton had a kill to take the lead, and the Ephs were fired up. Williams used three Roger Williams errors, a block from Natalie Albright, another kill from Alexandra Newton, a kill from Erin Denham to build a 17-13 lead over Roger Williams. Although the Hawks responded with a quick kill from Tori Melanson and senior Grace Kenningham, the Ephs were not fazed and rallied behind a kill from junior Lauren Barry to swing the momentum back in their favor. From here, Williams played confidently and loosely to secure the win 25-18.
The fourth set was back and forth with great hustle and intense rallies. The momentum shifted to Williams when the Ephs broke a 10-10 tie with a kill from Alexandra Newton and two Roger Williams errors. From here, the Ephs maintained at least a one-point lead over the Hawks, managing to curb any potential rallies with kills from multiple Williams players; Erin Denham led this charge with three kills. Williams began to run away with the lead after a kill from Olivia Hindy and a Roger Williams error to put Williams up 23-20. However, Roger Williams gathered themselves and responded with a five-point run, uninterrupted by a Williams timeout, that was highlighted by a kill from Lara Loiacono and a kill from freshman Kristen Dansereau, to take the set 25-23 over the Ephs.
Roger Williams leaders were: Maddie Neuberger and Katherine Pickard with seventeen kills each, senior Julia Fields with fifty-one assists, and sophomore Kate Grabowski with twenty-one digs. Williams leaders were: Erin Denham with fourteen kills, Alexandra Newton with nineteen assists, and senior Daiana Takashima with eighteen digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey commented: "We made a couple small changes after the first set to just re-focus back on trying to control our first ball contacts and being more aggressive with our serves. I really like how our team responded and played well for the next two and a half sets. We made some timely errors, and Roger Williams responded with a few plays. We started out the fifth set really well, and I'm proud of our team for responding from the fourth set as we did not do that as well a week ago. We just couldn't hang onto the momentum, so it was a tough one to lose in five today."
The Ephs are back in action on Friday, September 27th when they take on Hamilton College at 8:00 P.M. EDT for another conference matchup.