Volleyball Starts Season with 3-1 Record
Issue   |   Wed, 09/14/2011 - 02:28
Photo courtesy of Jessica Mestre '10

The volleyball team got off to a strong start this weekend, going 3-1 at the Johnson & Wales Invitational in their first game action since a record-breaking 2010 season that saw the team compile a stunning 25-4 record.
The Firedogs opened tournament play by crushing Bridgewater State, despite being shorthanded due to multiple course conflicts. The players who were able to play brought their best efforts, however, and Bridgewater State had no chance from the beginning.

The Jeffs cruised to a 25-9 first set rout and followed it up by winning the next two sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-12, respectively. Emily Waterhouse ’13 led the way in what truly was a team effort, completing her return from a torn ACL with six kills, four aces and nine digs. Co-captain Cristy Meier ’12 was a force up front with nine kills, and Callie Neilson ’13 combined with Mary Reiser ’12 for 15 assists to set up the Jeff attack.

The Firedogs, however, faced a tough, familiar foe in their next match as they took the court against Springfield. Springfield abruptly ended the Firedogs’ season last year with a 3-0 blowout victory in the NCAA Tournament, and Friday proved to be a repeat performance.

While Amherst showed some mettle and battled with the Pride for the whole match, the Firedogs fell once again in straight sets, 14-25, 21–-25, 17-25. Lauren Antion ’15 paced the team with eight kills, providing a glimpse of the six-footer’s potential.
Kristin Keeno ’13 and Devin Pence ’14 also provided some solid defense, with Keeno racking up 13 digs to lead the team. But their efforts were not enough to close the gap with the Pride.

Perhaps a bit discouraged by yet another loss to Springfield, the Firedogs fell behind early once again against Keene State on Saturday. After dropping the first set, however, the team rallied for a thrilling 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 28-26, 25-20) victory. Reiser, Meier and K.C. Kanoff ’12 tallied 30 kills in a gritty effort. Neilson also had a monster game, putting up 35 assists and adding 15 digs as well.

Head coach Sue Everden was proud of her team’s resilience after the match, saying that “I believe [the players] have the appropriate mentality and work ethic to get it done.” She continued by adding that “Keene State is the perfect example…doing the little things is what brought us back and allowed us to succeed in the match.”

The team continued to focus on the little details and excelled against Wheaton College, closing out the weekend with a 3-0 sweep. Reiser continued her strong attacking play with 12 kills, and Meier combined with Megan McCafferty ’14 for 14 kills. Keeno once again led the defense with 16 digs.

In addition, Neilson recorded 31 assists to finish a fine individual tournament. In fact, she was recognized on the all-tournament team for her outstanding performances throughout the four games. As a team, Amherst ended up finishing second to Springfield in the tournament standings.

“I think this was a fantastic weekend for a team that is finding its identity and determining its strengths and weaknesses,” Everden said. “We have a long way to go and are off on what I trust will be a wonderful adventure.”

The Firedogs return to action on Wednesday when they take on Emerson College before opening NESCAC play against Wesleyan on Friday, Sept. 16.