Volleyball Prepared to Mount Serious Challenge for Postseason Glory
Issue   |   Fri, 09/01/2017 - 01:53
Amherst Athletics
Senior Marialexa Natsis was third on the team in kills last season, notching 407 total.

After an up and down 2016 season, the Amherst women’s volleyball team hopes that this campaign will mark a return to the form of two years ago that saw the Firedogs make it to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

With an impressive stable of upperclassmen talent and a wealth of postseason experience, Amherst has the necessary ingredients to make a return to NCAAs.

Leading the way for the Firedogs is the four-woman strong senior class of Annika Reczek, Asha Walker, Marialexa Natsis and Kate Antion.

Natsis will be crucial for the team’s success this season, since she was third on the team in kills last season and Amherst’s top two hitters graduated. With the nearest returner over 70 kills behind Natsis, she will likely have to shoulder much of the offensive load.

Meanwhile, a combination of Walker and junior standout Hayes Honea will command the critical position of defensive specialist.

Honea already has demonstrated her acumen for the position, leading the team with 492 digs last season, well over double the second-place tally on the team and the third most in the NESCAC.

Further bolstering Amherst’s chances were the standout seasons put together by Emily Kolsky ’20 and Lauren Reppert ’19 last year.

Each of the two underclassmen outside hitters played in every match and placed fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team in both total kills and kills per set.
Lastly, the sophomore duo of Charlotte Duran and Adelaide Shunk are expected to provide quality production from the setter position, where the duo posted dominant assist numbers last season. Duran especially impressed with a 429 total assists and 4.93 assists per set, both of which tallies led the team.

However, even with the enormous amount of returning talent as detailed above, the Firedogs will no doubt struggle to replace the singular talent of Maggie Danner ’17, who graduated in May as a three-time all-NESCAC First Team selection, a distinction matched by few in the school’s history.

Hopefully, head coach Sue Everden’s recruitment, which has been strong in recent years, will net Amherst a few more sterling contributors to replace the production of Danner and her fellow graduates.

Everden’s incoming Firepups will have quite the demanding schedule facing them, with the team guaranteed to play at least 25 matches in under two months.

The toughest part of Amherst’s schedule, as it usually is, will be the series of matches versus the top NESCAC programs, especially Middlebury, Tufts and Bowdoin, the latter two of which the Firedogs will face in back-to-back home matches on Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7.

Amherst then faces archrival Williams on Saturday, Oct. 14, a match that Amherst prevailed in last year after having lost the three previous editions of the rivalry.

Well before the intensity of conference play begins, though, the Firedogs will open their season on the second day of classes, taking on Springfield College in an away match at 7 p.m. on Wedneday, Sept. 6.