Volleyball Picks Up Two Conference Wins, Now 7-0 On The Season
Issue   |   Wed, 09/23/2015 - 01:02

Amherst women’s volleyball built on its impressive, undefeated record this week: The team earned its first two wins in NESCAC competition, boosting the Jeffs to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in conference play. The team, a balanced combination of strong veteran players and promising young talent, dominated in its three games this week, posting a 3-1 victory over Western New England on Wednesday, an easy 3-0 sweep of Connecticut College on Friday, followed with a thrilling, come-from-behind victory over Tufts in five sets on Saturday afternoon in what senior captain Samantha Newby called the team’s “hardest physical match” of the season.

Wednesday’s non-conference match against Western New England set the tone for the rest of the week, with the Jeffs making a strong showing right off the bat. Amherst won the first set decidedly by a score of 25-7. Senior players and captains led the team in the first set, with a strong showing by Nicole Carter ’16, who had six assists, Katie Warshaw ’16 with five digs and Samantha Newby ’16 and Lizzie Ahern ’16 each contributing two blocks. Western New England took the second set narrowly before Amherst overwhelmed them 25-13 and 25-15 in the next two sets.

On Friday, the Jeffs made a statement with their home opener, taking their first conference game with ease in their rout of Conn. College. The veteran squad continued to impress, with seniors coming up big once again with Ahern posting 10 kills, Warshaw with 29 digs, Carter with 33 assists and 13 digs and Newby contributing four kills. Along with the impressive performance by the seniors, first-year Hayes Honea had a notable LeFrak debut with six digs and four assists on the day.

“The enthusiasm from the crowd pushed us forward,” Honea said. The first-year capped her performance with an ace on her final service to seal the sweep for the Jeffs.

The true gem this week was Amherst’s 3-2 comeback victory over Tufts on Saturday afternoon. Coming off a 0-3 loss to Tufts in the 2014 season, the team was looking to come out strong and keep up the impressive level of play they have displayed thus far this season. Two hard-fought sets resulted in two initial closely contested 23-25 losses, but Amherst bounced back in the third set to secure an early 14-10 lead. The Jeffs then rallied for a subsequent, uncontested six-point run led with a kill from junior outside-hitter Nicole Gould — who led the team in kills in the match with an outstanding 13 — and an assisted block from Marialexa Natsis ’18 and Carter. With one set win over the Jumbos under their belt and the team still fighting to force a fifth set, the most exciting set of the match commenced. Ten tie scores and seven lead changes later, two attacking errors by Tufts gave Amherst just the breathing room they needed to pull ahead and take the fourth set 25-23. The Jeffs jumped out to an early lead in the fifth and final set and managed to, although at times narrowly, hold their advantage throughout to allow Newby and Maggie Danner ’17 to put the exclamation point on a stunning performance with the 12th block of the match. Senior captains Carter, Ahern, Newby and Warshaw led the Jeffs’ absolutely electrifying performance, which was truly a team effort, resulting in impressive stats across the board. Warshaw led the team in digs with 29, followed by junior Kelci Keeno’s 14 and 10 apiece from Newby, Asha Walker ’18 and Honea.

The Jeffs are looking to keep up the intensity from this week when they travel to Williams on Wednesday, Sept. 23, before heading to Babson University on Saturday, Sept. 26, where they’ll face Clark University and Babson in a double-header match. Newby anticipates Wednesday’s match to be the team’s “hardest match mentally” as Williams has historically been Amherst’s toughest competition in the NESCAC, with the Jeffs facing narrow losses in the past several seasons. The upcoming week should be “a true test of mental toughness,” according to Newby, as the Jeffs look to continue their impressive performance in and out of conference play thus far.