NORTHAMPTON, MA – The Amherst College volleyball team traveled across the Connecticut River this evening to face off against non-conference foe Smith College in the latest installment of "The Battle of the Bridge." The Lord Jeffs emerged with a 3-0 win to improve to 13-3 overall, with the loss dropping the Pioneers to 9-12 on the year.
In the first set, Amherst jumped out to a quick 5-3 lead, with first-year Katherine Kanoff (Pacific Palisades, CA) finishing off four rallies with kills. The Lord Jeffs increased their lead to 10-5, forcing Smith to call an early timeout.
Amherst bumped its lead to 17-10 in the opening set with a thunderous kill down the middle from sophomore middle-hitter Laura Hyman (Glencoe, IL). The lead stayed at seven points, until Amherst closed out the set, 25-12, on five unanswered points off serves by sophomore Erin Camp (Santa Monica, CA).
Smith held an early 5-3 lead in the second set of the evening, as Amherst turned to senior quad-captain Hannah Wirth (Pacific Palisades, CA) and Kanoff to respond. The pair rattled off four straight kills to give Amherst a 7-5 advantage.
The Pioneers battled back to close the gap at 10-9, before Amherst opened up a five-point lead at 15-10. The Jeffs looked like they would once again rally off a handful of points to close the set, this time on Wirth's service, before Smith responded down 23-15. The Pioneers scored three straight points to force Amherst head coach Sue Everden to use a timeout. The timeout ultimately killed the Smith momentum, allowing Amherst to finish off the second set 25-20 on another Kanoff kill.
In the third set, Smith exploded out to a 4-0 lead with impressive serves from sophomore Lauren Martinez. The 5'3" setter showed why she is the Pioneers' leader in service aces during the stretch, as Amherst seemed to have no answer for her serve.
The Jeffs did eventually find an answer, and responded with a scoring run of their own that forced Smith into a timeout down 7-4. Smith went point-for-point with Amherst, and midway through the set trailed just 18-14. The margin would never get any smaller though as Amherst rolled to a 25-17 win in the third, and final, set.
The Lord Jeffs were paced offensively by Kanoff, who finished the night with 11 kills and 10 digs. Cristy Meier chipped in with eight kills of her own, while Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) was the team leader in blocks with a pair of stuffs. Heller finished the match with 26 assists to add to her team-leading total for the season. Yorke was stellar once again in the backline with 13 digs.
Smith was led by Bethany Weiss who registered nine kills and four blocks, and Courtney Parker who finished with four kills. Martinez finished with 13 assists and a pair or service aces. Rachel Lachert also had a fine match with nine digs for the Pioneers.
Amherst will have a short turnaround before hosting NESCAC rival Tufts University on Saturday at noon in a crucial NESCAC match-up.