Firedogs Fall in NESCAC Semifinals to Bowdoin
Issue   |   Wed, 11/13/2013 - 00:49
Photo Courtesy of Amherst College
Kate Bres '17 prepares to serve the ball against Bowdoin in the NESCAC semifinals.

The Firedogs entered the NESCAC tournament looking to win the NESCAC tournament championship, but fell in a heartbreaker to Bowdoin in the semifinals in five games.

In order to meet Bowdoin in the semifinals, Amherst first had to defeat a tough Middlebury squad in the quarterfinals that beat the Firedogs late in the season. After dropping the first game of the match, Amherst won straight games to win the match. The Firedogs lost the first game 25-21, and then won the next game in dramatic fashion 29-27.

Amherst again used their tremendous defense to fuel their offense. Both teams struggled offensively in the match, but Amherst was able to play more consistent and efficient offense. Middlebury struggled to a .151 hitting percentage on the match and was unable to provide their star hitter Megan Jarchow an opportunity to be as effective as she normally is.

Amherst was able to tally 14 blocks on the match led by Sammy Newby ’16 and Nicole Carter ’16 with four each. Carter continued her tremendous offensive effort by accounting for 41 assists and 12 digs. Three Firedogs had double-digit kills on the match led by the first-year duo of Maggie Danner and Nicole Gould with 14 kills respectively. Junior captain Lauren Antion sustained her level of play and was credited with 10 kills and three blocks.

With the win Amherst advanced to play a Bowdoin team that beat Amherst in straight sets earlier in the season. The semifinal match signified the first time that the Firedogs had advanced to the tournament semifinals since 2010.

Bowdoin advanced to the semifinal matchup on the back of an impressive five game win over Trinity. Bowdoin showed signs of fatigue early by dropping two of the first three games of the match.

Bowdoin won the first game 25-22 and looked to beat Amherst the same way they did in their matchup earlier in the season. However, Amherst rallied and won the next two games 25-22 and 25-15 and tried to close out the match in four games. The Firedogs were unable to win the fourth game and fell 25-20 setting up an all important fifth game.

Bowdoin jumped out to an early 7-1 lead, but Amherst closed the gap to 8-6 on the back of a 5-1 run. The Firedogs and Polar Bears battled back and forth to 13-13. With victory in sight for both teams, Bowdoin prevailed by winning the next two points.

Amherst got tremendous efforts out of Gould, Danner and Antion who combined for 40 kills. Gould notched 20 kills on the match to average an incredible 17 kills during the NESCAC tournament. Danner continued her strong play by contributing 11 kills, while Antion tallied nine kills. Carter capped off a tremendous season by possibly playing her best match of the year, posting 36 assists and 25 digs.

With the win, the Polar Bears advanced to the NESAC final against host Williams College. The Ephs won their first NESCAC championship since 2009 by defeating Bowdoin in straight sets 25-16, 25-15, 25-19.

Even though Amherst lost in the NESCAC semifinals, there was the hope that the Firedogs would be able to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

However, Amherst fell short and was unable to get an NCAA tournament bid. Even though the Firedogs didn’t achieve one of their goals heading into the season, there is a lot to be excited about for next season. The Firedogs don’t graduate any players and return an underclassman heavy team that got a significant amount of playing time this season. Look for the Firedogs to come out next season with high expectations, and don’t be surprised when Amherst wins a NESCAC championship.