AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College volleyball team kicked off the 2007 Hall of Fame Classic with a 5 p.m. match against Wheaton College in LeFrak Gymnasium, as each team was going for its 20th win of the season. After taking care of the Lyons in three games, the Lord Jeffs took on Brandeis University, who had defeated Colby College to begin its night. The Judges avenged a 3-0 loss to Amherst earlier in the season, as the Jeffs came up just short in their comeback attempt and ultimately fell, 3-2.
Amherst was slow to get out of the gate, but used an 11-point run to pull ahead in the opening game, as the Jeffs cruised to a 30-20 win to kick things off with Wheaton. Amherst broke a 5-5 tie in the second game and never looked back, this time earning a 30-16 victory.
The teams were notched at 14-14 in a much closer game three, when Amherst went on a 10-1 run to earn some breathing room. The Lyons remained within striking distance and kept things close for the rest of the way, but the Jeffs held on to close out the match with a 30-25 win.
The Amherst attack was led by senior tri-captains Jaclyn DeMais (Hillsdale, NJ) and Whitney Kouvaris (Jacksonville, FL), as well as junior Hannah Wirth (Pacific Palisades, CA), as DeMais finished with 19 kills and Kouvaris and Wirth chipped in with eight each.
DeMais and fellow senior tri-captain Julie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) each had 11 digs, while first-year Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) led the defense with 20 digs. Junior Sara Heller (La Canada, CA) and first-year Katherine Jordan (Los Altos Hills, CA) split time setting up the attack, finishing with 32 assists and 13 assists, respectively.
Picking up the majority of the kills for Wheaton were sophomore Lauren Kraus and first-years Sam Andreacchi and Natasha von Sonn, who finished with seven, six and six, respectively. Andreacchi added 13 digs, while first-year Kristen Hunt had 18 digs and fellow rookie Becca Rose chalked up 22 assists.
Amherst resumed play at 7:45 p.m. with its rematch against Brandeis. The opening game was a back-and-forth battle until the Judges broke a 21-21 tie by outscoring Amherst 9-3 the rest of the way to earn a 30-24 victory.
The Jeffs had their backs to the wall in the second game when they trailed 29-27, but after scoring the next point Kouvaris delivered a kill that landed on the line and had no chance of being returned. Amherst took a 30-29 lead and served for the game, but the Judges kept their cool and came back to earn a 32-30 win in a game that featured 12 ties and 10 lead changes, as Brandeis took a two-games-to-none lead.
The third game was another barn burner, with Amherst leading most of the way, as the Jeffs were able to stay alive with a 30-28 win. Brandeis opened the fourth game with some phenomenal defense and put Amherst in an early hole, but the Jeffs used an 11-2 run to jump out to a 16-11 advantage. The Judges were able to cut their deficit to as little as one point several times before finally tying the game at 29-29, but Kouvaris came up with back-to-back kills to give her team a 31-29 win and force a fifth game.
Brandeis jumped out to a 3-0 advantage to begin the deciding game and did not relinquish the lead, as the Judges held on for a 15-10 win to close out the match. Amherst moved to 20-3, while Brandeis improved to 20-6 with its pair of wins.
DeMais and Kouvaris picked up 18 and 17 kills, respectively, to lead Amherst, with Heller picking up an even 50 assists. Yorke was once again the team leader in digs with 23, while DeMais added 22 of her own. Sophomore Piera Carfagno and junior Lorraine Wingenbach had 22 and 20 kills for Brandeis, first-year Abby Blasco had 54 assists, and junior Violette Ruggiero finished with a match-high 32 digs.
The Lord Jeffs return to action Saturday for the conclusion of the Hall of Fame Classic, and will travel to Smith College to take on Springfield at 10 a.m. and an opponent to be determined at 2 p.m.