Hartford, CT-- Traveling down to Hartford to take on conference rival Trinity in a crucial NESCAC match Volleyball pulled out a tough three set win (25-19, 25-22, 25-22) to move to 12-6 on the year and 6-1 in the NESCAC. With the win the Ephs move back into a tie for first place in the conference standings with three matches left to play. With the loss Trinity fall to 9-6 on the year (3-4 in NESCAC).
The Bantams, playing in front of a home crowd, rushed out to a 5-1 lead. A monster dig by sophomore defensive specialist Amanda Schott helped energize the Ephs, however, helping them rally back down 3-5. Trinity, however, would pull back ahead by six up 11-5. Williams closed the gap down to four at 7-11. A huge kill by junior co-captain Emily Doll brought the Ephs back to within one point down 11-12. Back to back aces by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller tied the set at 12-12 and then gave Williams a 13-12 lead, as momentum started to shift their way. Back to back kills by classmate Raea Rasmussen made it 17-13. As Trinity tried to rally a third kill by Rasmussen pushed the lead back up to four at 19-15. The Ephs' defense kept them in rallies while also providing an emotional spark to the offense. Forced to play longer and longer rallies Trinity struggled to keep pace, calling a timeout down five points at 16-21. A block by Miller increased the lead even further to 22-16. While the Bantams closed the gap to three points down 19-22 a 3-0 run by Williams shut things down for good as the Ephs took the crucial first set 25-19.
In the second set Trinity once again took an early lead up 3-0. Steady serving by Emily Doll allowed Williams to tie the score at 3-3 and the Ephs were able to take the lead up 6-5. The Bantams came back into it to take the lead up 7-6, although a Miller kill allowed Williams to once again tie things at 7-7. With the score tied up at 8-8 a 4-0 Trinity run gave them a lead at 12-8. After a Williams time out the Ephs were able to side out. A block by Doll made it 10-12, although Williams struggled to cut the deficit further, and Trinity regained their four point advantage up 18-14. A kill by first year setter Ryan Farley made it 16-18 while a kill by Doll closed it down to one at 18-19. A kill by Rasmussen tied things up at 19-19, shifting the momentum firmly to the Ephs for good. With Williams up 20-19 Trinity took a time out, although it wouldn't do them much good as an ace by Miller opened up a three point lead at 22-19. A kill by Doll made it 23-20, and a service error by the Bantams gave the Ephs a set point. A Rasmussen kill emphatically ended things for the Ephs, giving them the set victory 25-22.
Trinity would not go down with out a fight, however, settling down to try and grind it up in the third set. With the two teams going back and forth in the opening points a stuff block by Farley gave Williams a one point lead up 4-3. A kill by Miller made it 5-4 before the Bantams rallied to go up 7-5. A kill by Doll narrowed the gap to 6-7 before Trinity ran out a two point lead once again up 9-7. The Ephs rallied to tie it at 9-9 but once again the Bantams responded, taking a 12-10 lead. A kill by Miller tied it at 13-13, and Williams took the lead at 15-14 through a stuff block from Doll and co-captain Haley Eagon. With the Ephs up two points at 17-15 Trinity took a time out. Coming out of the break a 3-0 run by the Bantams put them in a dangerous position up 18-17 before a Doll kill ended the rally. A second Doll kill made it 19-18, while a Rasmussen kill put Williams up two at 20-18. Back to back kills by first year middle hitter Katherine Lane were crucial in backing Trinity into a corner, putting the Ephs up 22-20. A late push by the Bantams, however, made things interesting as they rallied back to a one point deficit down 22-23. A kill by Claire Miller set up match point and it would be Miller who ended the match with yet another kill, giving Williams the set 25-22.
Head Coach Christi Kelsey was pleased with the team's performance, noting that "Anytime you get a conference win on the road it's an important victory. Trinity is a really strong team so for us to pull out a match in three sets was a good way to start the weekend." According to Kelsey the victory was due as much to the unselfish play of the Williams backcourt as it was by their offense up at the net: "I think our defense really won us the match tonight. The team really played well together in our defensive system and refused to let any ball hit the floor in order to keep rallies alive and give our team a chance to score points. It's the kind of defensive intensity we need going forward in the matches ahead."
Williams will be looking to continue with their success as they travel up to Amherst to take on the arch rival Jeffs in another critical conference match. The winner of the match will win the Little Three Championship, with both squads having already notched wins over Wesleyan in the regular season.