Firedogs Burn Williams
Issue   |   Wed, 11/02/2011 - 02:09
Mark Idleman ’15
Devin Pence ’14 and the fifth-ranked Firedogs enter the NESCAC tournament 20-6.

The Firedogs closed out their regular season this week with three victories, sweeping Smith and Hamilton and earning a close 3-2 win over Williams. The captains are happy with the team’s progress thus far, but Cristy Meier ’12 doesn’t think they’ve reached their full potential yet. KC Kanoff ’12 agrees: “We have been playing really well together these last few weeks, and it still feels like the best is yet to come.” The Firedogs are currently 20-6 (6-4 NESCAC).

First-year Laura Antion led the Firedogs’ offense in a 3-0 rout of Smith last Wednesday. She hit .773 and matched her career-high of 17 kills. All the Firedogs came out firing, as they scored the first five points of the first set. Smith called a timeout in an attempt to break up the Firedogs’ momentum, but to no avail, as they pushed the score to 10-0. They eventuallytook the first set 25-12, with Antion scoring the final point with her sixth kill.

The Pioneers attempted to retaliate in the second set with an early 7-4 lead. The Firedogs scored three straight points to even the score, but Smith took the lead back, going up 16-13. Amherst refused to give up, and outscored the Pioneers 6-4 to pull within one point at 20-19. The Jeffs then scored three of the next four points to take the lead at 23-21. Antion and Claire Hoffman ’14 combined on a block to score another point and extend the lead, and Devin Pence ’14 finished the set off with an ace for a 25-21 victory.

The lead changed hands a few times in the third set before the Firedogs prevailed, 25-14. on a kill from Kanoff. Meier closed the match with eight kills while Kanoff and Hunter combined for 10. Callie Neilson ’13 led the offense with 34 assists while Pence and Kristin Keeno ’13 each tallied nine digs.

The Firedogs faced Williams on Friday, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Eph in five sets. The teams were tied 5-5 in the first set before Williams began to pull away. The Firedogs managed to bring themselves back within a point of the Ephs at 18-17, before a spike from Kanoff evened the score. The teams traded points, tying at 20 points and again at 23, before the Eph put the Firedogs away, 25-23.

The Firedogs took a quick 4-1 lead in the second set, but the Ephs took six of the next seven points. The Firedogs trailed after that, before tying it up at 16 with a kill from Antion and a combined block from Hunter and Mary Reiser ’12. Antion scored a service ace to take the lead, but the teams were soon tied again at 21. Williams had an edge at 24-23, but a long serve kept the Firedogs in the game. After an Amherst error, the Ephs closed the second set 29-27.

Williams held onto their momentum heading into the third set, going up 4-0, before the Firedogs rallied. They scored seven consecutive points, leading by three after a block from Meier and two aces by Kanoff. The Ephs scored two points, but an Antion spike maintained the Firedogs’ three-point cushion at 16-13. An Eph error and a block from Reiser and Antion gave Amherst an even bigger lead, before the Ephs called a timeout. Williams couldn’t take back the lead however, as they continued to trail 21-14 after kills from Meier and Antion. The Ephs pulled their deficit back to 24-20, but Hunter’s kill sealed the Firedogs’ first victory of the match.

The teams stayed close at the beginning of the fourth set, tying things up at six points. The Firedogs built a four-point lead with consecutive kills from Hunter and Kanoff, and another kill from Kanoff put Amherst up 16-10. The Ephs pulled back within two points at 22-20, but Amherst called a timeout to regroup, and Antion sealed the fourth victory with a spike, 25-23.
In the deciding fifth set, the Ephs scored the first points to go up 6-3. The Firedogs tied up the score twice, but Williams continued to push for the lead, going up 10-7. Amherst knotted up the score again at 11, and capitalized on an Eph error to take the lead. A kill from Antion gave the Firedogs a two-point lead. After trading kills, the Ephs tied the score again at 14. Meier scored the final two points that the Firedogs needed for the comeback victory.

Antion had a career-high of 18 kills, while Meier contributed 17. Kanoff had eight kills and 19 digs, while Hunter had six kills and six blocks. Neilson had 54 assists and added 11 digs, while Keeno had a match-high 30 digs, and Reiser added seven blocks on defense.

The Firedogs followed this win by rolling over Hamilton 3-0 the next day. Kanoff and Antion both contributed 13 kills to lead the offense, while Hunter and Meier added seven and six spikes, respectively. In the first set, Hamilton gained a four-point advantage on an Amherst hitting error, and pulled ahead 16-10 after a spike. But the Firedogs stormed back with a 10-1 run to take a 20-17 lead off a spike from Kanoff. Antion blocked for the final point, giving the Firedogs a 25-20 victory. The Firedogs held the lead for the entire second set, winning 25-19 with a kill from Hunter. In the third set, Kanoff had consecutive service aces to put the Firedogs up 5-0. Their final set was the most dominant, as Meghan McCafferty ’14 put away her second spike for the 25-12 win. Neilson had 33 assists and Keeno tallied 25 digs.

The wins earned the Firedogs the No. 5 spot in the NESCAC championship. They will face No. 4 Trinity on Friday. In their previous matchup, the Bantams blanked the Firedogs 3-0. “NESCACs are when it really counts and I think that coming in as the underdogs will be beneficial for us” Meier said. “People don’t expect a lot from us but we’ve been doing a lot of great things at practice that I think will carry on into our matches.” According to her, the team needs to “work a lot on becoming a little faster and less hesitant when we play. We also need to work on letting the bad things go and focusing on the next point or game.”
Kanoff thinks there’s room for improvement as well. She said, “I think our biggest thing will be limiting our own errors and controlling the pace of the game.”