AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College volleyball team entered Saturday's NESCAC match with Connecticut College having just picked up a crucial conference win over Wesleyan University the night before. The Lord Jeffs were involved in another thriller, but the Camels edged out a nail-biting 3-2 victory to hand Amherst its first conference loss of the season. The Jeffs drop to 18-2 (5-1 NESCAC) on the season, while Connecticut improves to 14-5 (5-1 NESCAC).
Both teams began the first game a tad sluggish, but before long Amherst had found its groove and jumped out to a 16-9 lead. The Jeffs' lead hovered between four and seven points until sophomore Bethany Belisle (Austin, TX) picked up a kill to give her team a 28-20 lead, as the Camels called a timeout to regain composure. Amherst did not let up, however, and held on to earn a 30-24 victory.
Neither team could pull ahead by more than one point in the second game until the Camels broke a 9-9 tie by scoring five consecutive points. The Jeffs were well within striking distance throughout the game, but Connecticut kept its cool and tied the match with a nail-biting 30-28 win.
Amherst opened up the third game with several receiving errors and miscues, allowing the Camels to take a 10-4 advantage. The Jeffs never found their usual rhythm, and found themselves trailing two games to one after Connecticut's 30-24 game-two victory.
With its back against the ropes, the Amherst attack got back on track and the Jeffs led by as many as 13 points in game four, cruising to a 30-18 win to send the match into a fifth and deciding game. The Camels scored the first three points of the final game, but before long the teams were notched at 5-5. Connecticut broke the tie and did not hand the lead back to the Jeffs, as an Amherst service error ended the match with the visitors leading, 15-13.
Senior tri-captain Jaclyn DeMais (Hillsdale, NJ) had a pair of match-highs, as she finished with 26 kills and 30 digs. DeMais' younger sister, Marissa, racked up 50 assists for the Camels, while junior Sara Heller (La Canada, CA) chalked up 50 of her own for the Jeffs, adding 15 digs and five block assists. First-year Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) and senior tri-captain Julie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) had 23 and 15 digs, respectively, while Berkley's younger sister, Jackie (Fullerton, CA), picked up three service aces.
Connecticut junior co-captain Caitlin Tomaska totaled 21 kills and 18 digs to lead the Camels, while sophomore Meg Christman added 12 kills and sophomore Maddy Baldwin chipped in with 21 digs. As a team, the Camels had 17 service aces against Amherst.
The Lord Jeffs return to action Tuesday for a crucial conference match with archrival Williams College. Match time is set for 7 p.m. in Amherst.