Northampton, Mass.-- Moving over to Smith College for the second day of the Hall of Fame Invitational, Volleyball played two tough matches against NEWMAC opponents. Despite fighting hard in both sets Williams was unable to overcome the challenge posed by the Springfield Pride (3-2: 19-25, 25-18, 24-26, 25-19, 15-10) and Wellesley Blue (3-0: 25-22, 25-23, 25-15). With the two losses the Ephs fall to 13-10 on the lead, but are still in remarkably good shape in the NESCAC, where they are tied for third place alongside two other teams with a record of 6-2.
Facing off against Springfield, last year's New England NCAA Regional Champion, Williams were able to jump out in the first set. While there were four ties through the first eight combined points a kill by sophomore outside hitter Raea Rasmussen gave the Ephs their first lead of the match up 5-4. A kill by junior co-captain Emily Doll increased the lead to 6-4. Following two hitting errors by Springfield the Pride were forced to take a time out. Coming out of the break Springfield was able to side out, although the Pride were unable to shift momentum over to their side. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller pushed the Williams lead to five points up 11-6, while a kill by Doll maintained this margin up 13-8. An ace by first year setter Ryan Farley increased the lead to six up 14-8, and with the lead up to seven points at 17-10 Springfield was forced to call their second timeout. The Pride were unable to rebound out of the time out, however, and a service error by Springfield allowed the Ephs to maintain their seven point lead up 19-12. A block by first year Catherine Egan and Farley made it 20-13 for WIlliams, while another Egan block made it 21-13. Springfield dug in, unwilling to concede the set without a fight, bringing down to five at 23-18. A service error by the Pride gave Williams their first set point up 24-18, and the Ephs were able to close out the set victory 25-19.
In the second set Springfield went on a 4-1 run to start things off, prompting an early time out by Williams head coach Christi Kelsey. Settling down the team, the timeout gave the Ephs the break they needed, moving the score to 2-4. A ball handling error by the Pride gifted Williams a point down 4-3, while an Egan block maintained the one point deficit down 6-5. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller tied things up at 7-7, and another monster kill made it 9-9 as Springfield struggled to reassert themselves. The Pride would then run out to a 13-11lead as they found their footing once again. A kill by Rasmussen narrowed the gap down to one point with the Ephs trailing 14-13, but Springfield rebounded once again to go up 17-14. An ace by sophomore libero Emily O'Day made it 16-18 Williams, and a kill by Miller maintained the two point deficit down 19-17. A quick two point burst by the Pride, though, meant that they increased their lead to 21-17, prompting a Williams time out. The Ephs finally stopped the run down 23-18, but Springfield closed out the set 25-18.
A block by Eagon and Doll started things off right for Williams in the third set, but the Ephs then had to battle through ties at 1-1 and 2-2. With Eagon at the line Williams was able to go up 4-2. A block by Rasmussen pushed it to 5-3, which she followed up with another kill to 6-3. Springfield would roar back to tie the score at 6-6, while Miller would be forced to do the same for the Ephs at 8-8. A kill by Eagon made it 9-8, while Williams would maintain the lead up 12-11 with a Miller ace. With the Ephs up 15-13 Springfield called a timeout, although it would be to no avail, as Doll threw down a kill to make it 18-16. A kill by Miller increased the Williams lead to 20-17. Once again Springfield launched a comeback bid, evening the score at 20-20. The Pride went up 21-20, which was quickly snuffed out by a Doll kill to 22-22. With Springfield up 23-22 another kill by Doll made it 23-23. A kill by Egan gave Williams a set point up 24-23, although Springfield fought it off to 24-24. Another kill by Egan made it 25-24 and this time the Ephs made sure to leave no doubt, Miller ending things up 26-24.
Springfield took a quick 2-0 lead to open the fourth set, but two Miller kills quickly tied things up at 2-2. A Doll kill put the Ephs up 3-2, although the Pride would tie the score at 5-5 before taking a one point lead up 7-6. Williams would battle back, but were still one point down 11-10 following another Miller kill. Springfield grappled their way out to a three point lead up 13-10, necessitating a Williams time out. The Pride increased their lead out of the timeout, however, to six points up 17-11. A kill by Miller narrowed the gap to three at 13-17, and the Ephs cut the lead to three down 20-17. Springfield took a time out at this point to attempt to limit the damage to their chances of winning the match. Out of the timeout a Rasmussen block cut the lead down to two points at 18-20, although the Pride went up again 22-18. While another Rasmussen kill brought the deficit down to 22-19, Springfield would close out the set 25-19.
Facing their second fifth set in two days the Ephs seemed determined not to repeat the previous evening's collapse. A kill by Eagon started things off right, but Springfield bounced back to tie it at 1-1. A Springfield service error tied things up for Williams at 2-2, while a Doll kill put the Ephs up 4-3. Williams would maintain their lead up 5-2, while a Rasmussen kill pushed the lead to two up 6-4. The Pride took a time out to try and stop the run, which proved successful as they were able to side out coming out of the break and tie the score at 6-6. At the switch Springfield was up 8-6, necessitating a Williams time out when they went up 9-6. A kill by Egan made it 7-9 Ephs, while a Miller kill closed the gap down to one point at 8-9. It was Springfield's turn to take a time out. Back to back kills by Miller made it 9-10 and 10-11, athough a 2-0 run would prove back breaking as they increased their lead to 13-10. Although Williams used their second time out they were unable to get the ball back, falling by a score of 15-10.
While the Ephs were certainly disappointed with the defeat, their overall level of play was much higher than in their previous loss to MIT. Offensively Williams was lead by Claire Miller's 19 kills, a season high, while Emily Doll was second on the team with 14. Raea Rasmussen and Catherine Egan tied for third on the team with seven kills apiece. In the defensive back court Doll had a similarly impressive importance, registering 16 digs. Sophomore libero Emily O'Day tallied 14 digs while Haley Eagon had 9 despite playing limited minutes in the back row. Williams had nine total team blocks in the match, helping them to keep Springfield on the back foot throughout. Catherine Egan would lead the Ephs with six individual blocks, while Rasmussen was second with 4. Setter Ryan Farley tallied 44 assists for the Ephs in her role facilitating the Williams offense. How their offense went, so fared the Ephs. Hitting .370 (set one) and .333 (set three) in their two victories while faring much worse (.000 set two, .137 set four, .150 set 5) in their three set losses. Overall Williams looked to build on their performance in their afternoon match against Wellesley.
Against the Blue the Ephs struggled at the outset, perhaps feeling the after effects of a long layover following the morning match. Wellesley went up 4-0 in the first set, although a kill by Emily Doll provided some hope at an immediate comeback down 4-2. A block by Catherine Egan similarly kept things close at 4-6. With Wellesley running out their lead to 8-4, however, Williams was forced to take a time out. The Ephs finally got the ball back down 10-5 due to a service error by the Blue. A block by Ryan Farley made it 6-11 but Wellesley responded, keeping their five point lead at 15-10. The Blue pushed the lead out to eight points up 18-10, requiring a time out by Coach Kelsey. Out of the time out the Ephs found it difficult to shift momentum. A late run by the Ephs closed the gap down to 19-22. A Wellesley service error kept the margin at three with Williams down 23-20. A kill by Eagon made it 21-23, while another kill by Doll made it 22-24. Wellesley closed out the set, however, 25-22.
In the second set both teams battled through ties at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 before Wellesley pushed out to a 5-3 lead. A Rasmussen kill made it 4-5, and kills by Doll and Miller kept the margin at one point down 6-5 and 7-6. A kill by Eagon gave Williams their first lead at 9-8. A Rasmussen block made it 11-8, necessitating a Wellesley time out. The Blue would close the gap to 12-13 before a Rasmussen kill made it 14-12. Wellesley would tie the set at 14-14, although Williams would retake the lead up 17-15. The Blue would storm back into it down 17-18 and take the lead 19-18. The Ephs took a time out to try and regroup, stopping the run down 19-21. Up 24-21 and sensing an impending Williams comeback Wellesley took a time out. A kill by Rasmussen made it 22-24, while a kill by Egan brought it down to 23-24. The Blue would close out the set, however, with a score of 25-23.
The opening flurries of the third set were once again back and forth. Wellesley finally took a two point lead up 7-5, which would grow to three points up 10-7. Williams would take a timeout, hoping to regroup. Following the break Wellesley increased their lead to 13-8 before a Miller kill stopped the run. The Blue then broke the set wide open, taking a six point lead up 17-11 before a kill by first year middle hitter Katherine Lane stopped the run at 12-17. Wellesley called a timeout to ensure they were focused on the final few points. With Wellesley up 19-13 the threat of a Williams comeback diminished and the Blue closed out the set 25-15.
The Ephs played strongly at times, although had much less success offensively than they did against Springfield. Raea Rasmussn would lead the team with 8 kills, followed by Catherine Egan who had six kills while hitting .625 (1 error, eight attempts). First year Katherine Lane, despite playing only one set, had five kills and 1 error in eight attempts. Ryan Farley had 25 assists in the three set match, while Emily O'Day bossed the back court to the tune of 11 digs. Haley Eagon led the team with four blocks.
Coach Kelsey was pleased with the way in which her team played despite the results: "This was a tough weekend…we played three of the best teams in the region and had close matches against MIT and Springfield. While I obviously wish the results would have been different I was proud of our ability to compete at a high level. Hopefully we can build on this in the week ahead for another important conference weekend at home."
The Ephs will next host NESCAC rivals Tufts and Bowdoin on Friday night and Saturday evening respectively in Chandler gymnasium. On Friday night Williams will celebrate their senior night, honoring Haley Eagon, Lauren Agoubi and Mika Nakashige for their strong four year contributions to the Williams program.