Bennington, VT-- Despite dropping a close first set to a feisty squad from Southern Vermont, Williams rebounded to take the next three sets in impressive fashion, claiming a 3-1 (22-25, 25-13, 25-20, 25-20) victory. On the evening Williams rode an all out offensive performance, slamming home 59 kills (14.75 per set ) with a hitting percentage of .275, in dominating their opponents. The all-around solid performance boosts the Ephs to 13-7 on the season while the Mountaineers fall to 17-2.
Playing in front of a boisterous Southern Vermont crowd Williams showed that they were not going to be intimidated early, taking a 6-3 lead. Responding to the energy of their fans, however, the Mountaineers tied the set at 7-7. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller made it 8-7, although Southern Vermont would come back to tie the set at 10-10.
A kill by junior co-captain Emily Doll would give the Ephs the lead back at 11-10, while a successive ace pushed the lead to 12-10. The Mountaineers dug their heels in, rushing out with a 5-0 run to capture a 15-12 lead. Eph head coach Christi Kelsey called a time-out, allowing Williams to regroup and earn a side out.
An ace by sophomore Emily O'Day pulled the Ephs back to within one point down 15-14 before another run by the Mountaineers put them up 17-14. Williams, then, launched a rally of their own. A kill by Miller made it 17-16, while another kill by first year middle hitter Catherine Egan brought the Ephs level at 17-17. A 3-1 run by Southern Vermont gave them the lead back up 20-18 before Williams could side out. The Mountaineers rebounded again to push the lead to 22-19, prompting a second time out by the Ephs. A Southern Vermont service error out of the timeout gave Williams some hope down 22-20, and a ball handling error by the Mountaineers made it 22-21. The Ephs could not close the gap further, however, handing serve back to Southern Vermont in a 2-0 run stopped by a kill by Doll at 24-22. The Mountaineers had a little extra in the tank at the very end in taking the 25-22 set victory.
A kill by first year middle hitter Katherine Lane started things off right for the Ephs in the second set, followed by a Doll ace for the 2-0 lead. Another kill by Lane made it 3-1 Williams. With senior defensive specialist Lauren Agoubi at the service line the Ephs pushed the lead out to three up, 6-3. Southern Vermont would battle back to within one at 6-5, causing a Williams timeout.
The Ephs got the break coming out of the timeout, and an ace by Miller made it 8-6. Sophomore Amanda Schott then took over serving and put her foot down hard, pressing the lead out to 11-7. A kill by Doll punctuated another Williams run to make it 13-8, while Lane chipped in another kill to make it 14-8. With the Eph offense now running on all cylinders (hitting percentage of .419 in the second set) a crafty tip by first year setter Ryan Farley made it 16-10. Another Lane kill made it 17-11. With an ace by Agoubi increasing the lead to seven up 18-11 Southern Vermont coach Josh Stokes burned one of his timeouts.
The attempt to shift momentum would prove in vain, however, as Williams kept on rolling. Another Agoubi ace made it 20-11, while a Miller kill increased the lead to its largest yet, 23-12, prompting another timeout from Stokes. SVC would side out, although a kill by Lane gave them an insurmountable lead up 24-13. Williams would finish the set out 25-13. The backbreaking 14-6 run by the Ephs firmly shifted the tide of the match in their favor and briefly quieted the Southern Vermont crowd.
Williams traded errors with the Mountaineers to open set number three. A huge solo block by Farley tied things up at 3-3 before Southern Vermont snuck out in front up 6-5. A kill by Doll tied things, while a kill by Egan allowed the Ephs to flip the score up 8-6.
Things would stay tight from there until a hitting error by Southern Vermont gave Williams a four point lead, 12-8. The Mountaineers showed resolve, though, in clawing their way back to a one point deficit down 12-11 before a kill by Doll stamped out the run. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Raea Rasmussen pushed the lead back up to three points at 14-11, necessitating a Southern Vermont time out. Another kill by Rasmussen made it 15-12 as the Williams offense began rolling once again.
Kills by Lane and Miller made it 16-12 and 18-13 respectively as the Ephs threatened to break the set, and match, wide open. The Mountaineers would pull back two points before a kill by Egan increased the lead back up to five points, 20-15. A kill by Doll made it 21-15 before a 3-0 rally by Southern Vermont brought the gap back to a more manageable distance. A service error by the Mountaineers ended that run, although they got a quick side out to close the gap to 22-19.
A huge stuff block by Egan and Doll firmly shifted the momentum to the Ephs up 23-19, which was made even more clear by a Doll kill to 24-19. While Southern Vermont pulled back one more point Williams closed out the set 25-20.
Pushed back against the ropes the Mountaineers did not go down easily jumping out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the fourth set. They increased their lead to four up 6-2 prompting a Williams timeout.
A kill by Miller out of the timeout made it 6-3, while another by Egan allowed the Ephs to creep closer, 6-4. A block by Doll brought the deficit to within one 8-7, a gap that was maintained by an Egan block to 9-8. Perhaps sensing an impending shift in momentum Stokes called a timeout in an attempt to refocus the Mountaineers.
Southern Vermont got the ball back out of the time out, going up two points at 11-9. A kill by Doll pulled the Ephs closer down 11-10, while she served up an ace to give them the lead back at 12-11. A kill by Lane kept things rolling for Williams, up 14-13, although the Mountaineers snuck back into it to take a lead of their own up 16-15 before a Doll kill put an end to that rally.
Neither team was immediately able to pull away, although the Ephs were the first to make their move. A kill by Rasmussen gave them an 18-17 lead while a ball handling error by Southern Vermont allowed them to take the lead 19-17. Feeling the match slipping away the Mountaineers called their second time out, getting the point they needed coming out of the break.
A Rasmussen kill broke the tie at 19-19, giving Williams a slim one point lead that Southern Vermont soon smoked out at 20-20. Back to back kills by Doll and Lane made it 21-20 and 22-20. Another successive kill by Lane made it three straight for the Ephs in would would prove the deciding run of the match. Tough serving by Doll forced Southern Vermont out of system, compelling them to give the ball back to Williams without much velocity, setting up easy kills for the Ephs. Back to back aces by Doll ended the match with authority, giving Williams the hard-fought set victory 25-20.
The win for the Ephs allows them to avenge last season's home loss to Southern Vermont. Williams also snapped a seven-game win streak for the Mountaineers and dealt them only their second home loss since September 19, 2010. The Ephs were led by the strong all around play of junior co-captain Emily Doll, who had a sparkling offensive stat line with 18 kills in 32 attempts for an attack average of .406 (5 errors). Claire Miller was second on the team with 12 kills, while classmate Raea Rasmussen pitched in with 9 kills of her own.
The first year tandem of middle hitters Katherine Lane and Catherine Egan had eight kills apiece. Where the Ephs really outshined their opponents was on defense, tallying five more team blocks than the Mountaineers (8-3) and eleven more digs (75-64). Egan would lead Williams with six blocks, while Doll would come in second on the team with three. In the backcourt Amanda Schott would have 18 digs, easily a career high, while Lauren Agoubi was close behind with 13. Emily Doll had 10 digs while Emily O'Day and Ryan Farley each had nine. Claire Miller had eight digs despite playing limited minutes in the back row.
Williams will now look to maintain the momentum from the emotional victory as they head into a tough weekend at the Hall of Fame Invitational, co-hosted by Mt. Holyoke and Smith Colleges. The Ephs will face three tough NEWMAC foes: MIT, Springfield, and Wellesley in their final tune-up before taking on conference rivals Tufts and Bowdoin in two crucial matches the following weekend at home.