Beverley, Mass.--Volleyball opened their season Friday evening with two tough matches against regional foes at the Endicott Invitational. Facing off against the UMass Boston Beacons the Ephs dropped a tough 3 set (25-23, 25-15, 25-17) decision that was much more hard fought then the final score would indicate. Earlier in the evening Williams pulled off a come from behind victory over Plymouth State to notch their first win of the young season in five sets 3-2 (20-25, 25-17, 25-20, 22-25, 15-13).
Against the Beacons the Ephs were powered by a mixture of youth and experience. Junior co-captain Emily Doll tied for the team lead in kills with seven alongside freshmen middle hitter Catherine Egan. Egan would also lead the team in hitting percentage, committing only one error in 11 attempts enroute to a stellar .545 average. Doll would be second on the team with an average of .333 (2 errors in 15 attempts).The hard work that the Ephs have put in this preseason was on display as they were able to jump on UMass early in the first set and grapple back and forth before conceding defeat. In the next two sets Williams fought valiantly against a noticeably tired Beacons squad that leaned heavily on a few key serving runs in order to break open games that remained tight throughout their early goings.
Defensively the Ephs used a strong team system to replace the absence of graduated senior Aly McKinnon, who tallied an impressive 1283 digs (8th on the all time program list) during her four year career. Sophomore Emily O'Day stepped into the libero position, tallying a team leading 9 digs. She was ably assisted by seniors Lauren Agoubi and Mika Nakashige, who played important minutes as defensive specialists, recording 3 and 2 digs respectively.
Against Plymouth State the Ephs found themselves in a nailbiter of a match as they worked through opening weekend jitters against a solid opposing squad. Williams relied on the leadership of their upperclassmen to hold them together in the face of adversity, with Senior co-captain Haley Eagon leading the team in hitting percentage with 5 kills in 9 attempts with no errors, good for a stellar .555 average. Junior Emily Baratta came off the bench to make a large offensive impression on the match, slamming home a team leading 15 kills in 46 attempts. Sophomore Claire Miller went swing for swing with Baratta, totaling 13 kills in a slightly fewer 37 attempts.
The Williams offense was ably run by the tandem of first year Ryan Farley and sophomore Amanda Schott working in concert in a more complicated offensive system then the Ephs have run in the past. Farley dished out 41 assists on the evening to her teammates, while Schott contributed an additional 20. Against Plymouth State Farley also helped boss the backline for the Ephs, digging up 14 balls, second on the team only to the libero O'Day (21 digs). Williams also depended on some stellar defensive play at the net in the victory, with first year Katherine Lane leading the team in her first collegiate match with 4 blocks.
All in all the split decisions made for a challenging first day of competition for a Williams team that is still seeking to shape their team identity as they move towards the start of conference play. The Ephs will be looking to bounce back tomorrow against out of region Susquehanna and the host Gulls.