Volleyball Rolls to Sweeps, Ups Win Streak to Five Matches
Issue   |   Fri, 10/18/2013 - 00:24

Ever since losing to archrival Williams College in late September, the Firedogs have been playing exceptional volleyball, winning five matches in row. Amherst has been so dominant that they have only lost one game during that stretch of matches to go 15-1 in games.

The Firedogs fired on all cylinders last week led by first-year Maggie Danner. She was named NESCAC player of the week and led Amherst with a .407 hitting percentage during their sweep of last week’s opponents.

“This past weekend I felt like everything was going right and our team was playing so well together which allowed me to get into a great rhythm, especially in the Middlebury game,” Danner said.

The Firedogs started their week by cruising past Westfield State 3-0 (25-7, 25-15, 25-9) in a non-league contest. Amherst played outstanding defense and held the Owls to a -.011 hitting percentage for the match. The Firedogs played efficient offense led by Danner and captain Lauren Antion ’15, with 13 and 12 kills, respectively.

Amherst then traveled to Vermont to play the Middlebury Panthers in an important match in NESCAC play. Middlebury entered the match tied for second in the NESCAC, with only a single loss on the season to Wesleyan. The Panthers were also undefeated at home, but the Firedogs were determined to change that.

“We are all really focused on the task at hand and took advantage of all of the opportunities presented. We were all fired up from the start, and it was a really fun match to play in,” Gould said.

Amherst set the pace and quickly jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first game and didn’t look back. Continuing their strong offensive effort from their last match against Westfield, the Firedogs took the first set 25-16 on the back of great team offense. However, after hitting .478 in the first set, the offense cooled off.

The Firedogs relied on tremendous defense to lead them to victory the rest of the way. Amherst limited Middlebury to a .085 hitting percentage on the match and tallied 11 blocks. Five Firedogs recorded a block on the match and were able to last week’s player of the week Megan Jarchow ineffective. Although she contributed 11 kills on the match, she was held to .029 hitting percentage.

“One strength for us was our defense which allowed us to set up a great offense and really frustrate Middlebury,” Danner said.

Nicole Carter ’16 continued to play extremely well and led the team with 29 kills on the evening. Danner led the team in both kills and digs on the match, notching 14 of each. With the win (25-16, 25-17, 25-20), Amherst moved to 12-5 and Middlebury fell to 13-2.

After a big win against the Panthers, the Firedogs were determined not to have a let down against Hamilton. The Continentals haven’t won a NESCAC contest yet this season and have only won two matches overall, but Amherst didn’t want to give Hamilton their first NESCAC victory.

The Firedogs continued their trend of jumping out early in the first game and did so again Saturday. Amherst hit .409 en route to an easy win, 25-10. The Continentals did a much better job containing the Amherst attack the next two games but were simply overmatched. The Firedogs held Hamilton to a .110 hitting percentage on the match and were able to smother the Continental’s attack. Hamilton failed to have a hitter with double-digit kills, while Amherst had two such players. Antion and Danner both notched double digit kills with 12 and 11 respectively. Carter paced the offense with 35 assists on the match.

With the victory over Hamilton, the Firedogs moved to 13-5 on the season with a 5-2 mark in league play. Hamilton fell to 3-14 overall and an 0-6 record in the NESCAC.

Amherst now looks to extend their win streak to six matches, as they face a league contest against the Colby Mules this Friday Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. in LeFrak Gymnasium. Colby is 6-9 on the season, but can’t be overlooked as each NESCAC competition becomes more and more important heading into the NESCAC tournament.

The Firedogs will then travel to Clark College on Saturday to play a double header against Simmons College and Clark College. Simmons and Clark both enter with losing records at 8-18 and 9-12 respectively. Amherst will look to maintain their momentum as they head into the Hall of Fame Tournament the following week.