Firedogs Improve to 4-1 in NESCAC Play
Issue   |   Tue, 10/07/2014 - 23:15
Janna Joassainte '17
With two NESCAC victories over both Middlebury and Hamilton over the weekend, the Firedogs moved into sole posession of second place in conference play. Amherst will look to build on their 11-4 overall record in the coming week, as they enter into an easier part of their schedule.

The Amherst women’s volleyball team claimed two wins over Middlebury and Hamilton in NESCAC play this past weekend. Now at the halfway point of the regular season, the Firedogs improved to 10-4 overall (4-1 NESCAC).

On Friday night, Amherst recorded a 3-1 (16-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-22) come-from-behind victory in LeFrak Gymnasium over Midd. Sophomores Maggie Danner and Nicole Gould led the Firedogs to the victory with 17 and 16 kills, respectively.

Libero Katie Warshaw ‘16 recorded a double-double with 27 digs and 10 assists. Nicole Carter ’16 dished out 22 assists, while Kate Bres ’17 had 21 assists. Asha Walker ’18 and Kelci Keeno ’17 recorded 16 digs and 10 digs, respectively, and Marialexa Natsis ’18 added eight kills.

Amherst started the first set in a rhythm, racing out to a 7-0 lead before Midd. came back to claim 14 of the next 19 points to force an Amherst timeout. The Firedogs came out of the break to claim a 15-14 run before the Panthers went on an 11-1 run to claim the first set. Amherst struggled with their hitting after the initial flurry, only recording six kills to eight hitting errors in the set with a -.048 hitting percentage.

Trailing 6-4 in the second set, a Danner kill started a six-point run for the Firedogs as they controlled most of the set. A kill by Gould put Amherst ahead, 16-9, and the two teams largely traded points until Amherst won the set (25-20) and tied the match, 1-1.

Midd. jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the third stanza until a Danner kill sparked a four-point run for Amherst to tie the score. With Amherst holding a 12-11 lead, Natsis floored two consecutive kills to force a Middlebury timeout. However, the Firedogs pulled away later in the set with kills from Samantha Newby ’16, Danner and Walker before Gould claimed the set-winning kill to put Amherst up 2-1 in the match.

The Panthers held the lead for most of the fourth set, leading by as many as six. Following a Midd. service error to break up their rally, consecutive Gould kills narrowed the margin to three. However, the visitors responded with consecutive points to force an Amherst timeout. The Firedogs responded out of the break, claiming nine of the last 11 points to win the match. Danner had five kills in the last eight points of the set to lead Amherst to the victory.

Coach Sue Everden commented on her team’s play. “At times, our serve receive did not produce the passes one would want to run a quick attack, so we became a bit predictable, thus easier to defend,” she said. “I thought the team did a great ‘gut check’ in the fourth game when we were down to win that set and thus the match.”

The Firedogs returned to LeFrak on Saturday afternoon to claim a sweep (25-20, 25-20, 25-8) over Hamilton. Danner and Gould led Amherst with 10 kills each while Carter and Bres each distributed 14 assists. Warshaw recorded a match-high 28 digs while Lauren Antion ’15 and Newby each claimed two blocks.

Hamilton featured a balanced attack, with six kills from Erin Casey and four from three different players. Margaret O’Brien claimed a match-high 2.5 total blocks. Kyndal Burdin dished out 14 assists and Anna Brown claimed 25 digs to lead the visitors.

Coach Everden said that the team “had great rhythm, flow and consistency. Our play combinations were exceptional which kept Hamilton off balance all day. We also served exceptionally well, which meant that they had a difficult time establishing their attack. It was a very good display of sound volleyball.”

With the score tied at 6-6 in the first set, an attack error by the Continentals sparked a 7-3 run for the Firedogs, as the final kill of the run from Natsis forced a timeout. Consecutive Amherst errors later in the set cut the lead to one (17-16), but a timeout allowed the Firedogs to regroup and finish off the set with an 8-4 run.

Down 1-0, Hamilton had the upper hand early in the second set, leading 14-9 at one point following an Amherst error. Then an error by Hamilton started a nine-point run for the Firedogs, and they continued on to claim the set 25-20.

The Firedogs controlled the final set from start to finish, winning it 25-8 without any ties or lead changes. In the last set, Amherst recorded a .412 hitting percentage, as compared to a -.091 hitting percentage for Hamilton to earn the win easily.

The team returns to action Wednesday, Oct. 8 with a non-conference game at Westfield State at 7 p.m. The Owls enter the contest at 6-13. However, the Firedgos face a stiff defensive test from outisde hitter Victoria Sutphen. Sutphen is the Owls’ main offensive weapon, averaging 2.51 kills-per-game.

On Friday, Oct. 10, the Firedogs then take on Western New England in LeFrak Gymnasium. The Golden Bears are exiting a difficult stretch of their schedule in which they lost two of three contests. Western New England utilizes a three pronged offensive attack to keep their opponents off balance. Although the Golden Bears aren’t a stellar defensive team, their offense has carried them thus far this season and is very dangerous.

On Saturday, the team travels to Tufts for a double-header against NESCAC rivals Tufts at 1 p.m. and Endicott at 3 p.m.

Tufts has played well in conference, winning three of four. Howeve, they have struggled in non-conference games, as they have gone six and six. Endicott enters the match with a record of 10 wins and eight losses.