Volleyball Digs Out of Early-Season Hole
Issue   |   Fri, 10/21/2011 - 18:10

After a loss to Tufts dropped the volleyball team to 1-3 in conference play, the Firedogs ripped off three straight wins en route to a 4-1 stretch that brought the team to 15-5 overall and .500 in the NESCAC. The Firedogs first reached .500 with impressive wins over Conn. College and Colby, and the team quickly bounced back from a loss to Bowdoin by shutting out Bates.

The Firedogs started off the month strong, defeating Western New England 3-1 on Oct. 5 behind aggressive offensive play. Cristy Meier ’12 and KC Kanoff ’12 led the team with 17 and 11 kills, respectively, with Meier hitting .486. The Golden Bears took the third set in an attempt to keep the match close, but the Firedogs put the match away with 13 kills in the final set, seven coming from Meier.

Over fall break, the team traveled to Boston for two conference matchups. Amherst fell to a strong Tufts team 3-0 in their opening match. The Firedogs led 10-8 at one point in the first set, but that was the last they would see of the lead, dropping the set 25-21 and the next two sets 25-17 each. Meier continued her great run of form by recording 16 kills to lead the team, but the Firedogs could only muster 18 kills in the last two sets, and a slow start to the third set allowed Tufts to jump out to a 6-0 lead, eventually winning 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-17).

Having lost their last three NESCAC matchups, the Firedogs broke through in a big way against Connecticut, beating the Camels 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-23). Connecticut was 4-2 in conference play entering the match, but Amherst’s attack was too much to handle, with the Firedogs recording 13 kills in each set. Amherst’s senior captains took over the first two sets, with Kanoff getting seven kills in the first set and Meier recording seven in the second set. Helped by four service aces from Lauren Antion ’15, the team held off the Camels in the last set to move into sole possession of seventh place in the NESCAC.

The Firedogs returned to LeFrak Gymnasium for a midweek gameagainst Westfield State before heading up to Colby for the weekend, with the team picking up a 3-1 (25-14, 25-11, 19-25, 25-18) victory to get to 13-4. Amherst hadn’t lost to the Owls since 1999, and Kanoff, Antion and Abigail Hunter ’13 helped continue the streak by each going over double digits in kills.

The Firedogs traveled to Maine on Saturday and promptly found themselves in a slugfest against Colby, eventually prevailing in a thrilling 3-2 (25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 22-25, 15-12) match that lasted two hours. The team rode Kanoff and Meier to victory, as the senior captains came up huge with 21 and 18 kills, respectively. Kanoff’s 21 kills were a season high for any Amherst player this year and helped push her past 1,000 kills for her career. Callie Neilson ’13 was instrumental in the Firedogs’ offensive explosion and ended up with 51 assists, five more than Colby had as a team. Colby came into the matchup second in the NESCAC in digs and recorded 103 in the match, but even with their strong defensive play the Mules couldn’t contain the Amherst hitters.

The Firedogs faced a stiff test on Sunday morning against Bowdoin, which came into Sunday’s matchup with the Jeffs at 17-1, undefeated in conference play and leading the NESCAC in hitting percentage. The Firedogs lost the first two games but kept them close and dominated the third game, allowing only 12 points while hitting .320 as a team. Eventually though, the Jeffs lost their way and hit .064 as a team in the fouth set, which they dropped for a 3-1 (25-16, 25-22, 12-25, 25-15) loss.

Amherst went immediately from playing the best to the worst the NESCAC has to offer, as they took on Bates — a team that has yet to win a NESCAC matchup and stands at 3-15 overall. Unsurprisingly, the Firedogs dominated throughout their 3-0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-11) win. The team had a season-high .326 hitting percentage while limiting the Bobcats to an anemic .075 percentage. Kristin Keeno ’13 came up with 21 digs and continues to lead the NESCAC in both digs and digs per game.

Amherst currently sits in seventh place in the NESCAC with two more conference games remaining. The Firedogs return to action on Friday night when they take on MIT at Smith.