WILLIAMSTOWN, MA- In one of the most anticipated matches of the season, the Williams College volleyball team (16-11, 3-3) fell to conference rival Amherst College (17-4, 6-1) Tuesday night, 3-1 (16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 17-25). The match marked the second consecutive NESCAC defeat and the first home loss of the season for the Ephs. After losing only one conference match the past two years, the Ephs now find themselves with three defeats in six chances against the NESCAC this season.
"This was the first time in a long time that I've seen a Williams team not come out and strongly compete with Amherst," said head coach Fran Vandermeer. "You need to be mentally tough to go into your rivals gym and perform at a high level. Amherst did just that and we did not respond to the challenge."
For the second consecutive match, the Ephs stumbled out of the gate and could not create any momentum early on. In the first set, the Lord Jeffs were able to capitalize on the slow start of their opponent and easily capture the set. The second set was not much different, as the Lord Jeffs jumped out to an early lead and then held off a late Eph surge to go up 2-0.
The third set was all Ephs early as they jumped out to leads of 5-0 and 9-5. The Lord Jeffs would battle back however, as the lead went back and forth for most of the set. With the set tied at 18, the Ephs were able to channel the energy of the big crowd into a solid rally to close out the set. The momentum would be short lived, as the Lord Jeffs again jumped out to a huge 16-7 lead en route to the decisive NESCAC victory.
Before the match, the Ephs honored their only senior, Riki McDermott, with a ceremony to commemorate her last regular season home match. The two-time captain from Manhatten Beach, California came into the match with a career record of 87-38 and currently sits tenth on Williams all-time career digs. Despite the loss, McDermott posted 13 digs on the night.
Sophomore Kate Anderson led the Ephs with 14 kills to go along with two blocks, while first year Aly McKinnon posted an impressive 26 digs. Sophomores Nicole Ballon-Landa and Eleanor Levine were strong at the net, posting three blocks and nine kills each.
The Ephs now look to move forward with the Hall of Fame Tournament hosted by Smith before closing the regular season out with four consecutive NESCAC matches.