Volleyball Starts Season With Flourish, Firedogs Stand At 5-0
By by BECCA BINDER, Sports Editor
Last Wednesday, the volleyball team-a group of veterans and a crop of freshmen-were about to play in competition together for the first time. By Saturday night, the self-named Firedogs were 5-0 on the season, having torn through matches against Western Connecticut State University on Wednesday night and Bowdoin College, Bates College, Colby College and Tufts University on Friday and Saturday as part of the first of several vital NESCAC Quads.

"They have great chemistry on the court," commented Head Coach Sue Everden. "Preparation is the foundation for a season, and being 5-0 right now shows what they did in the off season."

"Last year, we were the NESCAC champs, and that carried over into the mental confidence that drove them this summer," added Everden. "We know that we're the team to beat, and that we can't afford to be unprepared."

Setter Meredith DeMeules '02 headed into Wednesday night's season opener against Western Connecticut State expecting a game filled with emotion from both sides of the net.

"Since we beat them in NCAA's last year, I expected that they would have a very strong desire to beat us this time as revenge," she said.

Desire notwithstanding, the Firedogs beat Western Connecticut State in three games, 15-9, 15-9, 15-13. For the Firedogs, junior outside hitter Erica Hewes recorded 11 kills in 22 total attempts to lead her team, followed by Erin Dittus '03, who racked up 12 kills in 27 total attempts for her team.

DeMeules had a match high 28 assists, and contributed to her team's defense with 13 digs. "Meredith has an uncanny ability to sense the court," said Everden. "She [takes] control, and that's very deflating to the other team."

Everden credited the entire team with last week's successes. "Irene Lee '03, Missy Mordy '03 and Co-captain Carrie Snyder '01 are all playing exceptionally," said Everden. "We're a very good all-around team. Our major weakness right now is the ability to get the serve into the court."

On Friday night, the Firedogs began their sweep of the NESCAC Quad with a 15-3, 15-4, 15-4 win over Bowdoin. Against the Polar Bears, middle hitter Lauren Wong '04 posted impressive numbers, racking up 10 kills in 10 total attempts.

DeMeules appreciates the exceptional contributions the freshmen have made to the team so far. "I love having both Lauren and Jess [Allen '04] with me in the front row because I know that I can depend on them to get a kill or at least a good hit over to the other team," she said. "I think all the freshmen are really well-rounded and strong players."

On Saturday, the Firedogs brought their record to a seasoned 5-0, with wins over Colby, Tufts and powerhouse Bates.

Against the White Mules, the Firedogs struggled in the second game, but came back to post a 15-0, 13-15, 15-5, 15-13 win in LeFrak Gymnasium. Hewes and Dittus led the Jeffs offensively, landing 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Dittus also posted 10 digs for the team. Allen and Wong each had eight kills for the Firedogs, and Allen also posted 15 digs. Lee and Mordy had 13 and nine digs, respectively. DeMeules scored 27 assists, and served four aces.

Next, the Firedogs faced down the Bates College Bobcats, their most formidable NESCAC opponent. After losing the first game, 12-15, the squad came back to preserve its record, taking the next three games, 15-11, 15-8, 15-4. Hewes had a huge game for the Firedogs, mustering 27 kills, while Dittus contributed 13.

DeMeules and Dittus also led the team in digs, with 15 and 12 respectively. For the Bobcats, Liz Wanless slammed 21 kills and served five aces. Everden said, "[Wanless] hit the ball almost every time, and we lost the first game because we weren't focused."

Wanless may have been the catalyst for the Bobcats' success in the first game, but the Firedogs still prevailed.

To finish their day, the Firedogs drove past Tufts in a 15-8, 15-9, 15-2 win. Hewes and Allen had seven kills and 13 digs respectively.

Today, the Firedogs will travel to Keene, N.H., to face down the Keene State College Owls in what Everden called a "good mental task." Co-captain Liza Abeles '01 will miss the game, staying at Amherst due to an academic conflict. Everden cited Abeles' absence, along with the scheduling of the mid-week game, as a good test for her team to deal with both mental pressure and a sudden change in team chemistry.

On Friday and Saturday, the Firedogs will travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the MIT Invitational Tournament, where they will play teams from around the region. Finally, on Tuesday night, the Firedogs will return to LeFrak, where they will play NESCAC rival Trinity College.

Issue 03, Submitted 2000-09-19 19:51:25