Top Four Seeds Advance in NESCAC Championship

AMHERST, MA – The opening round of the 2007 NESCAC Volleyball Championship kicked off Friday night at LeFrak Gymnasium on the campus of Amherst College, with the top four seeds in the eight-team tournament advancing to Saturday's semifinal round. Top-seeded Amherst will take on No. 4 Conn. College at 1 p.m. in LeFrak, with No. 2 Williams College taking on No. 3 Tufts University at 3:30 p.m.

Amherst hosted eighth-seeded Bowdoin College at 6 p.m. and won a pair of 30-22 games to take a two-games-to-none lead. The Polar Bears were able to pick up a 30-25 win in game three and jump out to an early lead in the fourth game, but the Jeffs stormed back and pulled away for another 30-22 victory to cap off the 3-1 win. Amherst improved to 26-3 on the season, while Bowdoin fell to 17-15.

Amherst senior tri-captains Jaclyn DeMais (Hillsdale, NJ) and Whitney Kouvaris (Jacksonville, FL) led the Jeffs with 17 and 14 kills, respectively, with DeMais adding 15 digs and three service aces. Junior Claire Holton-Basaldua (San Rafael, CA) added 12 kills, while junior Sara Heller (La Canada, CA) had 42 assists and 11 digs.

First-years Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) and Erin Camp (Encino, CA) combined for 30 digs, while sophomore Bethany Belisle (Austin, TX) chipped in with 12 and senior tri-captain Julie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) added 10. Junior Hannah Wirth (Pacific Palisades, CA) and first-year Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) were dominant at the net, racking up six and seven blocks, respectively.

Sophomore Gillian Page (Mercer Island, WA) paced Bowdoin with 12 kills and five block assists, with fellow sophomore Skye Lawrence (Kentfield, CA) adding 11 kills and 15 digs. First-year Grace Lazarus (San Francisco, CA) finished with a match-high 24 digs, senior co-captain Margo Linton (Atherton, CA) had a match-high four service aces, and sophomore Jenna Diggs (La Jolla, CA) chalked up 29 assists and 10 digs. First-year Stephanie Drumright (San Francisco, CA) matched Jackie Berkley with seven blocks at the net.

Williams earned a 3-0 win over No. 7 Middlebury College in the other 6 p.m. match, as the Ephs took victories of 30-24, 30-20 and 30-21. Leading the Ephs with 15 kills and 22 digs (both match highs) was sophomore Melissa Pun (San Francisco, CA), while first-year Eleanor Levine (Atlanta, CA) added nine kills and sophomore Chelsea Kubal (Atherton, CA) chipped in with 18 digs. Rookie setter Emily Avis (Palo Alto, CA) put in a solid all-around performance, totaling 44 assists and 15 digs in the win.

Middlebury senior Lindsay Patterson (Aspen, CO) led the Panther attack with 10 kills, while sophomore Natalie DuPre (Louisville, KY), senior co-captain Lexie Fisher (San Francisco, CA) and junior Reisa Bloch (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) had 21, 13 and 11 digs, respectively, with Fisher adding five block assists. First-year Lauren Barrett (Medfield, MA) had 10 digs to go along with her 28 assists. Williams improved to 25-7 with the win, while Middlebury fell to 15-14.

In 8 p.m. action, Tufts used wins of 30-26, 30-25 and 30-23 to move past No. 6 Trinity College and into Saturday's semifinal round, as the Jumbos improved to 19-12 on the year and the Bantams fell to 19-10. Leading Tufts' attack was first-year Dawson Joyce-Mendive (Minden, NV) with 17 kills, while junior Stacy Filocco (Olney, MD) added nine kills and 18 digs. Sophomore Dana Feiger (Long Grove, IL) finished with 39 assists and junior Natalie Goldstein (Piedmont, CA) tied for the match high with 23 digs.

For Trinity, junior Nicole Cahill (Quincy, MA) racked up nine kills and five blocks, sophomore Molly Ullman (Studio City, CA) had seven kills, and senior Emily Moore (Winfield, IL) chalked up 15 assists. Senior co-captain Kathleen Lenz (Cheshire, CT) tied Goldstein for a match-high 23 digs.

Connecticut had its hands full with No. 5 Wesleyan University in the other 8 p.m. match, but the Camels were able to cruise to a 30-16 game-one victory before edging out a 34-32 win in the second game. Game three featured another back-and-forth battle, but the Camels once again hung on, sealing the match with a 30-26 victory. Connecticut improved to 20-7, while Wesleyan moved to 17-8.

Junior co-captain Caitlin Tomaska (Solana Beach, CA) led the Camels with 16 kills and 14 digs, while sophomores Meg Christman (Wilmington, DE) and Lauren Wise (Oakton, VA) added 14 kills and seven kills, respectively. First-year Marissa DeMais (Hillsdale, NJ) racked up 40 assists and sophomore Maddy Baldwin (Los Altos, CA) tallied 19 digs.

Junior Lisa Drennan (Ann Arbor, MI) paced the Cardinals' attack with 19 kills and 10 digs, sophomore Ellie Healy (Manhattan Beach, CA) totaled 33 assists and 14 digs, and first-year Ruby Hernandez (West Palm Beach, FL) and junior Anna Williams (Northfield, MN) combined for 23 digs. 

Friday, Nov. 2 at Amherst College
No. 1 Amherst def. No. 8 Bowdoin, 3-1 (30-22, 30-22, 25-30, 30-22)
No. 2 Williams def. No. 7 Middlebury, 3-0 (30-24, 30-20, 30-21)
No. 3 Tufts def. No. 6 Trinity, 3-0 (30-26, 30-25, 30-23)
No. 4 Conn. def. No. 5 Wesleyan, 3-0 (30-16, 34-32, 30-26)
Saturday, Nov. 3 at Amherst College
No. 1 Amherst vs. No. 4 Conn. – 1 p.m.
No. 2 Williams vs. No. 3 Tufts – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4 at Amherst College
Semifinal Winners – 1 p.m.