Volleyball Drops First Match in Five Weeks
By Karan Bains '14, Sports Section Editor

Despite the enormous success the volleyball team has achieved thus far, the approaching NESCAC tournament continues to motivate the team to improve. While the Jeffs extended their record—breaking winning streak to 16 games over the weekend, they also encountered a slight bump in the road during the Hall of Fame Tournament here at Amherst.

The opening match on Friday saw Amherst take down Wellesley in four sets. After losing the first frame 25—27, the Jeffs rallied to take the next three sets by scores of 25—15, 25—15 and 25—16.

The Blue Pride took the first stanza with a late charge, but Amherst managed to swing the momentum back their way by jumping to an early 10—3 lead in the second set. While the margin decreased to as little as six points, the set was finished off by a kill from Cristy Meier ’12. Meier finished the match with 13 kills to lead the Jeffs’ attack, and also added eight digs and three blocks.

The rest of the team picked up where Meier left off in the third set, running out to an 8—0 advantage highlighted by an incredible dig from tri—captain Rachel Yorke ’11, whose nose for the ball took her 20 feet beyond the court. Amherst closed out the third set with ease, and managed to take the fourth set as well. Yorke led the defense with 29 digs, and Callie Neilson ’13 put up 44 assists.

The win gave Amherst a 19—1 record, which matched the 2006 team for the best start to a season in the program’s history. But Coach Sue Everden was hesitatant to compare the two teams, saying “The dynamic each year is new, fresh, and ever—changing.” Nevertheless, the Firedogs went into Saturday looking to rewrite the record books in LeFrak.

Unfortunately, the team failed to meet its goal against Bowdoin. For the first time in five weeks, the Jeffs lost a match, falling in four sets.

After dropping the first set, the Jeffs seemed poised to rebound as they have many times this year. They made a strong effort to come back, winning the second frame 25—22 after dropping the first by a score of 21—25.

But the comeback fell short in the final two sets with scores of 18—25 and 26—28. Amherst fought until the last point, spurred on by 16 kills and two blocks from Katherine Kanoff ’12 as well as 14 kills from Meier. Yorke continued her brilliant play in the loss, coming up with 32 digs and an ace. Erin Camp ’11 and Devin Pence ’14 also contributed to the defensive effort, combining for 35 digs.

Neilson dished out 49 assists, and her words of experience helped the Jeffs bounce back. As she has noted previously, “We recognize that each team we come across will be an amazing team. It will take all of our effort to win. But, as long as we continue to play hard and work together, we can beat any opponent.”

This confidence and respect for the opposition enabled the team to respond to the unfamiliar adversity of a loss by beating Tufts later on Saturday. This time, Amherst jumped out to grab the first two sets with scores of 25—23 and 25—18.

The early advantage gave the team breathing room even when it dropped the third frame by the lopsided margin of 12—25. The Jeffs rebounded from the disappointing set by dispatching the Jumbos 25—18 in the fourth stanza. The victory proved especially sweet, as the team agreed “that coming back to beat Tufts would prove how strong [we were],” according to Pence.

Yorke posted 40 digs in the win, capping a solid weekend of play that earned her all—tournament honors. Meier paced the offense with 15 kills, and Kanoff added 10 more.

After the tournament, the Jeffs’ record stands at 20—2, an impressive mark despite the recent loss.

This is the fifth consecutive year the Jeffs have reached the 20-win plateau. However, the victories to this point have only prepared the team for its ultimate goal: success in the postseason tournament.

Only three games remain in the regular season, which ends this Saturday. Amherst finishes with away matches at Smith on Wednesday and at Hamilton on Friday and Saturday, where they will take on Williams and Hamilton in NESCAC matches. After that, the NESCAC quarterfinals loom on Nov. 5. The Jeffs should enjoy a high seed that could help them in achieving their goals.

Issue 07, Submitted 2010-10-27 16:58:41