Volleyball Ends 2014 Season with 21-7 Record
Issue   |   Tue, 11/18/2014 - 23:28

The third-seeded Amherst College volleyball team reached the semifinals of the NESCAC championship last weekend, defeating Conn. College before falling to second-seeded archrivals Williams. Hoping for an at-large bid, the Firedogs were ultimately denied a chance to play in the Div. III volleyball championship as three teams from the NESCAC (Williams, Tufts and Bowdoin) made the 64-team field.

On Friday, Oct. 31 Amherst traveled to Tufts, the host of this year’s NESCAC tournament. In quarterfinal action on Friday night, the Firedogs defeated Conn. College, 3-1 (20-25, 25-14, 25-12, 25-13). Maggie Danner ’17 put in a terrific effort for Amherst, flooring 18 kills on a .378 hitting percentage to lead the Firedogs to victory.

Nicole Carter ’16 and Kate Bres ’17 directed the Amherst offense with 25 and 20 assists, respectively. Jennifer Mackinnon Krems ’18 and Nicole Gould ’17 each claimed nine kills, and Katie Warshaw ’16 recorded a match-high 22 digs. Asha Walker ’18 contributed in multiple categories with 13 digs, six kills and five service aces.

The first set was tied eight times, with the last tied score at 18-18 before the Camels went on a 7-2 run to claim the win, 25-20. Andrea Mullaney proved to be hard for Amherst to contain, flooring five kills en route to Conn. College’s 1-0 lead.

The second stanza started similarly, with the two teams exchanging points until the match was tied at nine. Seizing the lead behind Walker’s serve, the Firedogs gained momentum to claim the set, 25-14, and tie the match at one.

Amherst dominated the next two stanzas, roaring out to early leads and then building on them to claim each set easily and the match, 3-1. With the win, the Firedogs moved on to the semifinals.

Amherst then took on archrivals Williams on Saturday afternoon with a trip to the championship match on the line. Danner once again led the Firedogs with 12 kills, but the Ephs claimed the victory in straight sets (25-23, 25-19, 25-21) to move on to the final.

Gould added six kills for Amherst while Lizzie Ahern ’16 floored five. Warshaw recorded 12 digs and eight assists, and Carter claimed 10 assists to go along with eight digs. Bres added nine assists and six digs while Walker recorded six digs.

The Firedogs claimed an early lead in the first set, but Williams went on a run to tie the score at eight. Amherst then fought back to claim a seven-point lead, 20-13, before the Ephs went on two 5-0 runs.

Amherst once again jumped out to an early lead in the second set, but the Ephs responded again to match the score at eight. This time Williams claimed the lead and then kept it throughout the set to win it, 25-19, and claim a 2-0 advantage in the match.

The Ephs took the lead in the third stanza and retained it for most of the set. The Firedogs eventually fell, 25-21, and lost the match 3-0.

“I’m really proud of the team for how we played and how much we improved,” Danner said. “I don’t think our best came through in the last match against Williams, but the matches when we played our best make me really excited for next season and all we can accomplish.”

The team ends its season with a 21-7 record, their second straight with at least 20 wins. Senior middle blocker Lauren Antion will graduate in the spring, but the Firedogs will return the rest of the roster for the 2015 season. With a more experienced team across the board and a new recruiting class, the Firedogs will be serious challengers for a NESCAC championship and an NCAA tournament bid next fall.