Firedogs Cruise to First Place at J&W Invite
Issue   |   Wed, 09/17/2014 - 00:26

Following a second-place finish at last week’s Springfield Invitational, Amherst women’s volleyball returned to action in the Johnson & Wales Invitational this past weekend. The Firedogs dominated throughout, claiming four straight-set victories en route to first place.

Amherst opened the tournament on Friday night against hosts Johnson & Wales. Having already defeated JWU last weekend in straight sets, the Firedogs entered the match confident.

They claimed a 3-0 victory once again (25-18, 25-19, 25-13) to open on a commanding note.

Maggie Danner ‘17 led all hitters with 12 kills, while setter Nicole Carter ’16 directed the offense with 20 assists, and libero Katie Warshaw ’16 tallied 14 digs.

Nicole Gould ’17 added five kills and eight digs in the winning effort while Kate Bres ’17 helped direct the offense with 11 helpers. First-year Marialexa Natsis recorded five kills and two block assists while Kelci Keeno ’17 had seven digs.

In their second game Friday night, the Firedogs coasted past the University of New England 3-0 (25-12, 25-8, 25-16).
Amherst never really looked vulnerable, dominating throughout in the victory and recording an impressive .294 team hitting percentage.

Natsis led the Purple & White with seven kills and two blocks, while Warshaw recorded 17 digs. Warshaw and Gould each claimed three service aces to keep UNE off-balance. Bres notched 10 assists, while Danner and Samantha Newby ’16 combined for 11 kills and four blocks.

On Saturday, Amherst earned a pair of straight-set victories against Keene State. In the first match, the Owls kept each set close, but ultimately couldn’t claim any of them losing to Amherst 25-22, 25-22 and 25-21. The Firedogs endured a difficult match offensively, as Keene held them to a .176 hitting percentage for the match. Amherst, however, was strong on defense, recording 9.5 blocks and holding Keene State to a .087 hitting percentage.

Natsis led all players with four solo blocks and added six kills. Danner floored 10 kills to lead all hitters while co-captain Lauren Antion ’15 recorded three blocks. Warshaw continued her stellar tournament with another 17 digs, and Gould claimed nine kills with seven digs.

In the championship game on Saturday, Amherst faced Keene State once again, defeating the Owls 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-11) to claim first place.

The Firedogs recorded 11.5 total team blocks to their opponent’s 2.0 to cap off a spectacular tournament.

Jennifer Krems ’18 recorded five total blocks to highlight a strong defensive effort from the team. Natsis added five kills and two blocks, while Lizzie Ahern ’16 and Danner each recorded eight kills.

Warshaw claimed 19 digs as Bres and Carter combined to dish out 22 of the Firedogs’ 33 assists.

“I think this weekend was incredibly important going into NESCAC play,” Warshaw said. “Our mental toughness was the key factor in winning the Johnson & Wales tournament, and it will be crucial for our games against Trinity and Wesleyan as well. While out of conference matches are always good for our team’s improvement, we can’t wait to start competing against NESCAC teams.”

Natsis was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, and Warshaw joined her on the all-tournament team.
The Firedogs will look to build off of their strong performance this Friday, Sept. 19, as they travel to Trinity for their NESCAC opener.

The Bantams have started the season 6-2 and will look to continue their strong play behind a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense that averages 18.47 digs per set. The Amherst defense will have to key in on Kate Kiddens who leads the Trinity attack with 2.94 kills per set in order to be successful.