Brunswick, ME – After a weekend off from competition, Williams (9-4, 2-1 NESCAC) traveled to Brunswick, Maine to take on Bowdoin (7-6, 2-2 NESCAC) in another conference matchup. The match took all five sets, and Bowdoin battled back from a two-set deficit to be victorious.
In the fifth set, Bowdoin's senior Caroline Flaharty was on a hot streak as her two dominating kills gave Bowdoin the lead 3-1 and established the tone for the set. However, Williams freshman Anna Tosolini responded with a quick kill out of the middle to halt the Bowdoin momentum. With Bowdoin up 8-5, Williams took a timeout, but Bowdoin freshman Jaida Hodge-Adams responded with a kill to maintain the energy. Williams was unable to put together long rallies but attempted to chip away at the lead. Two kills from junior Lauren Barry and a well-placed tip from sophomore Olivia Hindy were the highlights of these attempts but were not enough as Bowdoin was victorious, 15-9, taking the set and the match.
The first set had eight lead changes and ten ties with even play from both teams. Powerful kills and incredible hustle plays highlighted the athleticism of both teams. The momentum shift did not come until the 18-18 tie when Williams capitalized on a Bowdoin error. Eph senior Erin Denham put a ferocious kill down the line to give the Ephs some extra energy. On the next point, Eph freshman Gracie Guidotti made an incredible dig, and sophomore Olivia Hindy set up senior Natalie Albright for a powerful swing that landed just inside the court for the Ephs to take the lead 21-18. Williams was sitting in good shape and was not fazed by Bowdoin threatening with a kill from Caroline Flaharty and a kill from sophomore Sophia Pahl. The Williams lead was shorted to 24-22, but Williams took a timeout which rattled Bowdoin, causing a service error, and giving the Ephs the victory, 25-22.
Although Williams was victorious in the first set, Bowdoin bounced back right away in the second. Bowdoin built an early 7-2 lead behind three Williams errors, two kills from Sophia Pahl, a service ace from freshman Ella Haugen, and a kill from junior Ashley Williams. Bowdoin appeared to be sitting comfortably, but Williams battled and refused to go away. The largest Bowdoin lead was five points with the Polar Bears up 16-11 over the Ephs, seemingly beginning to pull away. However, a Bowdoin error allowed Williams to breathe a bit, and the substitutions for Olivia Hindy and Gracie Guidotti instigated a Williams run. The Ephs tied the set at 19-19 behind two Bowdoin errors, two kills from Erin Denham, a kill from senior Alexandra Newton, and a block from Anna Tosolini. Williams was back in the set, and long, intense rallies ensued. Even though Bowdoin threatened to pull away, Williams gathered themselves, and a double block from Anna Tosolini and Lauren Barry tied the set at 24-24 and swung the momentum back to Williams. A Bowdoin error and a key, clutch solo block from Olivia Hindy pushed Williams to the 26-24 win.
In the third set, Bowdoin broke an 8-8 tie with a service ace from Sophia Pahl and a kill from Ashley Williams to put Bowdoin up 10-8. From here, Bowdoin never lost the lead, managing to keep Williams at bay by responding with a point every time Williams drew within one. The largest Bowdoin run put the Polar Bears up 20-15 and was led by a service ace and kill from Sophia Pahl and a kill from Caroline Flaharty. After this, Bowdoin never let up, and the five kills from Ashley Williams propelled the Polar Bears to the victory 25-20. Williams was led by Anna Tosolini with three kills.
Williams built an early 11-9 lead in the fourth set, but Bowdoin mustered up a four-point run to take the lead 13-11 by two kills from Ashley Williams, a block from sophomore Cori Gray, and a Williams error. The two teams battled out the set, trading points back and forth after long intense rallies filled with incredible hustle and athleticism. At the 18-18 tie, Bowdoin used a Williams error to collect themselves and Polar Bear Caroline Flaharty's kill to take the lead 20-18. Williams tried to rally behind two kills from Erin Denham and a kill from Anna Tosolini, but Bowdoin's Caroline Flaharty was too much as she powered down two kills to seal Bowdoin's victory 25-21.
Match leaders for Bowdoin were: Caroline Flaharty with twenty-three kills, Ella Haugen with thirty-six assists, and junior Emily King with twenty-eight digs. Match leaders for Williams were: Erin Denham with twenty kills, Alexandra Newton with forty assists, and senior Daiana Takashima with thirty digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey remarked: "Tonight was a tough one as we were really proud of our team especially in the first two sets as I thought they played collectively some of the best volleyball we have seen yet this year from our group. Bowdoin pushed us a bit in the third and for the rest of the match, and we kept fighting but just couldn't seem to gain an advantage over the last couple sets. There's a lot to be proud of, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have a chance to play again tomorrow."
Williams travels to Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday, October 5th for another conference matchup against Tufts University at 2:00 PM EDT.