Medford, MA – Williams College (9-5, 2-2 NESCAC) traveled to Tufts University (14-0, 5-0 NESCAC) for another conference matchup. The Jumbos came out victorious over the Ephs in three sets after a close, intense third set.
In the third set, Williams came out of the gate with fire in their bellies. The Ephs were determined to not go down without a fight, and this set saw fourteen ties. A turning point for Williams appeared to be with Tufts up 14-12 when Williams sophomore Olivia Hindy had a key kill. For Williams, a service ace from senior Daiana Takashima, a double block from Olivia Hindy and freshman Anna Tosolini, and an error from Tufts gave the Ephs the lead 16-14. Tufts pulled themselves back into it by using two kills from junior Jennifer Ryan and a double block by Jennifer Ryan and senior Heather Holz to take the lead 18-16. The rest of the set proceeded with intense rallies and remarkable hustle from both teams. Each team had to earn the point as no team made careless errors. Williams was unable to recover from the Tufts lead but threatened the lead by capitalizing on a Tufts error, a massive block from freshman Morgan Persky, and a kill from freshman Christina Conforti. This narrowed the Tufts lead to 23-22 and forced some Tufts substitutions, but the Jumbos regrouped and used two kills from senior Christina Nwankpa to close out the set 25-23.
In the first set, Tufts jumped out to an early 11-4 lead behind a five-point run led by two kills from senior Brigid Bell, a kill from sophomore Cate Desler, a kill from Jennifer Ryan, and a service ace from Cate Desler. Williams refused to let Tufts have an early lead, and behind the strong serving of Williams senior Natalie Albright, the Ephs narrowed the Tufts lead to 12-10. However, Tufts collected themselves and went on an eight-point run to expand the gap. Williams senior Erin Denham had some late strong serves to try and hold the Ephs in the set, but Tufts was too much to overcome and won 25-14.
For the second set, Williams was looking to bounce back, but Tufts built an early 13-5 lead, highlighted by four kills from Brigid Bell. This lead proved to be the momentum Tufts needed to maintain the lead, but Williams threatened with a four-point run led by a kill from junior Lauren Barry, a service ace from Erin Denham, and two errors from Tufts. This narrowed the Tufts lead to 16-11, but the Jumbos were not fazed. Williams's Daiana Takashima highlighted defensive play in this set by hustling all over the court to keep the ball off the ground and the Ephs in the set. Ultimately, the Jumbos lead was too large, and Tufts won 25-13.
For this match, Tufts leaders were: Christina Nwankpa with twelve kills, senior Rachel Furash with twenty-nine assists, and freshman Stephanie Lee with sixteen digs. Williams leaders were: Erin Denham and Christina Conforti with five kills each, senior Alexandra Newton with eight assists, and Daiana Takashima with eight digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey commented: "We had a really slow start to the day as we were just not executing well out of the gates. However, it was a huge highlight in the third set. We are so proud that our group came out on fire and literally refused to give up on every point. It was one of the best sets of volleyball we have played yet this year, so it is exciting to get back in the gym on Monday and go to work!"
Williams is back in action for a home weekend on Friday, October 11th against Colby at 8:00 PM EDT and Saturday, October 12th against Bates at 2:00 PM EDT.