Cambridge, MA – Williams College (12-7, 4-2 NESCAC) took on MIT (20-4) for the first match of the second day of the New England Challenge. Using the momentum from the second set, the Engineers reigned victorious and swept the Ephs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey commented, "We couldn't get into a rhythm to start the day. We were good in stretches but inconsistent with our execution overall."
In the second set, MIT jumped out to an early 6-0 lead led by the strong serving of senior Madison Lee. The Engineers maintained control of the set and used a four-point run including a kill from senior Alexis Groark and three service aces from junior Andie Maloney to extend the lead by eight points, leading 18-10. Williams then took a timeout and came out with renewed energy. The Ephs battled behind three kills from senior Erin Denham, a kill from sophomore Lydia Kurtz, a service ace from freshman Gracie Guidotti, a service ace from junior Allison Frison, and two MIT errors to narrow the MIT lead to 21-18. However, MIT resettled themselves and capitalized on a kill from freshman Alyssa Unell to side out and regain the momentum, then cruising to the victory, 25-19.
For the first set, MIT gained a 9-3 lead over Williams by utilizing the strong serving and two aces from freshman Sofie Kupiec. Williams utilized an attack error from MIT to begin chipping away at the lead. Eph Gracie Guidotti highlighted the Williams effort with her powerful serves and two service aces. In addition, Kiley Wallace and Erin Denham each contributed a kill to narrow the MIT lead to 13-12. However, MIT junior Emily Condon powered down a kill, and Andie Maloney stepped up to the service line and instigated a five-point run, helping MIT extend their lead to 19-12. From here, Williams was unable to get a rally going, and MIT coasted to the 25-16 win.
Following the second set, MIT had the momentum and energy going into the third set. MIT's Alexis Groark came out of the gate swinging with four kills to help MIT take an early 6-0 lead. After this, Williams was unable to string together runs larger than four points. This four-point run came off of a kill from Williams senior Alexandra Newton. The serving of Williams senior Natalie Albright and a kill from sophomore Olivia Hindy helped the Ephs on this run, and the Ephs closed the gap to 18-10. The MIT lead was too much to overcome as the Engineers used a block from sophomore Hannah Collins and reversed the momentum, giving MIT the energy needed to win 25-10.
For this match, MIT leaders were: Alexis Groark with eleven kills, Andie Maloney with thirty assists, and Madison Lee with fifteen digs. Williams leaders were: Erin Denham with six kills, Alexandra Newton with eight assists, and junior Allison Frison and senior Daiana Takashima with nine digs each.
The second match of the day was a faceoff between Williams College and Springfield College (16-9). This match needed five sets to decide the winner, and Williams was victorious even after dropping the first set to Springfield.
Head coach Christi Kelsey remarked, "Springfield was a great bounce back win for us. We were mentally tough when we needed to be, and we are really proud of the way we battled through to capture the fourth and fifth sets and the match."
The fifth set was extraordinarily close, seeing seven ties. The largest lead was two points until Williams broke the 9-9 tie after a momentum-shifting kill from Alexandra Newton. Then, the Ephs capitalized on two Springfield errors and a Lydia Kurtz kill to take the lead 13-9. Springfield refused to quit, however, and used three Williams errors, a service ace from sophomore Ashley Tanner, and a kill from senior Katie vonKampen to tie the set back up at 14-14. Williams buckled down, and Lauren Barry and Lydia Kurtz came up clutch for the Ephs with a kill each to end the set, 16-14, and claim the match.
For the first set, play was very even until Springfield went on a three-point run to pull away from their 13-12 lead. This run was highlighted by Springfield Katie vonKampen with a block and a kill along with a Williams error. Springfield took the lead 16-12. Williams then took a timeout and forced a service error to pull within three points, but this was all the Ephs could muster. Springfield reigned victorious in this set, 25-16. Williams was highlighted by two kills each from Erin Denham, Lydia Kurtz, and Natalie Albright.
In the second set, Williams came out determined to win and did just that. The turning point came with Williams up 14-12. The Ephs capitalized on a Springfield service error and proceeded to go on a four-point run. This run was highlighted by a kill from Olivia Hindy and a double block from Olivia Hindy and Lydia Kurtz and gave the Ephs the lead 19-12. Springfield threatened with their own four-point run led by the serving of sophomore Gabrielle Bradley, a kill from Ashley Tanner, and a double block from Katie vonKampen and sophomore Mackenzie Nunes. This narrowed the Williams lead to 19-16. The Ephs took a timeout and capitalized on a dynamic kill from junior Lauren Barry to take the ball back and the momentum. From here, Williams was confident, and Erin Denham shut down a late Springfield run with a kill that sealed the set, 25-21.
Springfield and Williams played another close one for the third set. Williams was up 15-13 due to a full team effort but was individually highlighted by three kills from Erin Denham. Springfield then took a timeout, and afterwards, Springfield had a kill from sophomore Demi Spanos to propel a six-point run and take the lead 20-15. Eph Allison Frison had a kill followed up by powerful serving from Natalie Albright to narrow the Springfield lead to 20-18, but Springfield was not fazed and maintained control for the rest of the set, taking the 25-20 win.
With their backs against the wall, the Ephs knew they had to win this set to stay alive, and the Ephs did just that. Springfield held a 16-14 lead, largely in part due to four kills from Demi Spanos. Williams took a timeout, forced a service error, and substituted for Alexandra Newton and Lauren Barry. This proved to be the spark the Ephs needed as they controlled the rest of the set, only giving up five points to Springfield. Ephs Lydia Kurtz and Lauren Barry highlighted Eph play for the rest of the set as they both had three kills each, providing the fire needed for Williams to win 25-21.
For this match, Springfield leaders were: Demi Spanos with eighteen kills, Mackenzie Nunes with fifty assists, and senior Anagabrielle Sanchez with twenty-two digs. Williams leaders were: Lydia Kurtz with seventeen kills, Alexandra Newton with twenty-six assists, and Allison Frison with twenty-one digs. Erin Denham earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Williams returns to conference play next weekend when they are on the road to take on Wesleyan College at 8:00 PM EDT on Friday, October 25th and Connecticut College at 1:00 PM EDT on Saturday, October 26th.