Volleyball Opens Season with Wins at Johnson and Wales Invitational
Issue   |   Wed, 09/14/2016 - 00:16
Photo Courtesy of Peter Connolly '18

The Amherst volleyball team opened its season this past weekend in Providence, Rhode Island at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Johnson and Wales University. In the three-game tournament, the purple and white finished 2-1. After dropping a disappointing first match to Johnson and Wales 3-0 (25-11, 25-18, 25-22), the Amherst women rallied and went on to sweep both Bridgewater State and Gordon.

Johnson and Wales pulled ahead of Amherst early in the first match and the purple and white were ultimately unable to overcome the deficit. As the series progressed, the Amherst team continued to gain momentum and found more of a rhythm.
Although Johnson and Wales swept Amherst, the final game of the series was an exciting back-and-forth match up with the purple and white leading 19-16 at one point during the set. However, the impressive Wildcat offense managed to overwhelm the Amherst defensive line in their first game back on the court and ultimately pull out the win over the purple and white.

Highlights from the match included Maggie Danner ’17, who led Amherst in kills with a total of 13. Mia Natsis ’18 and Claire Dennis ’20 each had two blocks. Sophomore Hayes Honea anchored the purple and white’s defense with 13 digs.

Despite the decisive loss the day prior, the Amherst women came out on Saturday fired up and eager to take the two matches ahead of them.

The purple and white dominated Bridgewater State, earning the sweep in three straight sets. In the convincing 3-0 (25-6, 25-13, 25-16) win, Natsis and Danner led the offensive charge. Natsis had nine kills, while Danner totaled seven. The pair of upperclassmen also notched four blocks each, vastly improving on their defensive efforts from the day before. Honea once again gave a strong defensive performance with 10 digs. Natsis and Asha Walker ’18 each contributed two service aces in the winning effort.

While the match against Gordon provided more of a challenge than the first game of the day, the purple and white still managed to pull off the sweep winning the three sets 25-12, 25-23, and 25-20. In the final match of the invitational, Nicole Gould ’17 paced the offense with seven kills.

Danner led the purple and white defense with three blocks, while Honea finished out the tournament with a team-high 17 digs. Kate Bres ’17 and Charlotte Duran ’20 were both major contributors on the offensive end, providing 12 assists each. Duran and Natsis were both named to the All-Tournament Team at the end of the invitational for their efforts on offense.

With the conclusion of action in Providence over the weekend, Amherst volleyball now boasts a 2-1 record, which they hope to continue to improve on.

“Saturday felt a lot better and I’m happy that we were able to come out strong and win both matches,” captain Bres said. “I’m proud of us for turning it around, and I’m looking forward to progressing as a team this season.”

The team looks to extend its winning streak in its home opener on Wednesday, Sept. 14 against Western New England University. Starting Friday, Sept. 15 the team will open conference play on the road at Bowdoin. The Firedogs will finish the weekend at conference rival Tufts on Saturday, Sept. 17.