Amherst Falls to Williams in NESCAC Title Match, 3-1

Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Information

MEDFORD, MA – The Williams College Ephs captured their second consecutive NESCAC Volleyball title and eighth all-time with a 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-12, 25-21) victory over the Amherst College Lord Jeffs Sunday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University.

The first set of the day was a great start to the championship match as there were 10 ties and six lead changes.  Amherst took a lead at 10-9 and built it to a high of three points at 16-13. The Ephs pulled to within two at 18-16 and then seized control as they recorded nine straight points to earn the first set victory, 25-18.

The Lord Jeffs held control in the second set, allowing Williams to have only one lead during the set which reached just two points at 6-4. The Ephs did use a 5-0 run to even the score up at 16 apiece, but Amherst buckled down and went on for the set victory, 25-20.

In the third set, there were seven ties to start, before Williams reeled off seven of eight points to go up 14-8. The Jeffs did not get any closer than five points. The Ephs used another run of six straight to win the third set, 25-12.

The fourth set was controlled by the Ephs as Amherst only held the lead once at 1-0. Williams pushed ahead for a set-high lead of seven points at 21-14. The Jeffs did not give in easily though, pulling to within two at 21-19 with a 5-0 run. That's as close as Amherst would get as Williams held on for the 25-21 fourth-set win to clinch the 2008 NESCAC Volleyball Championship.

Sophomore Nicole Ballon-Landa (La Jolla, CA) led the way for the Ephs as she racked up 17 kills and six digs. Sophomore Kate Anderson (Berlin, MA) also added 17 kills. The digs leader for Williams was once again junior Melissa Pun (San Francisco, CA) with 24, while sophomore Emily Avis (Palo Alto, CA) recorded a team-high 47 assists. Junior Andrea Scioscia (Gibsonia, PA) chipped in with three service aces.

Amherst was paced by the 11 kills and seven digs of first-year Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, CA). Sophomore Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) added a team-high 29 digs for the Jeffs. Senior Sara Heller (La Canada, CA) was excellent in defeat with 36 assists and 20 digs.

With the win, the Ephs are the first team to win back-to-back championships since they won four in a row from 2001 to 2004. Williams defeated Amherst in last year's final as well. Williams earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, where they will enter with a record of 25-12. The Jeffs, who last won the conference championship in 2006, fall to 22-8 for the year and will likely be denied a return to the national tournament.