Amherst Advances to NESCAC Finals with 3-1 Win Over Wesleyan

MEDFORD, MA – The third-seeded Amherst College Lord Jeffs advanced on to the championship round of the 2008 NESCAC Volleyball Championship with a 3-1 (25-23, 15-25, 25-19, 25-21) victory over the second-seeded Wesleyan University Cardinals Saturday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University.

Wesleyan seemingly held control of the first set and started out with a 7-2 advantage. Amherst was able to tie things up at 11-11, 21-21 and 22-22, but did not gain its first lead until earning a 23-22 edge. After the Cardinals tied it back up at 23 apiece, the Jeffs tacked on two straight for the 25-23 first-set victory.

The second set was owned by the Cardinals, as after they built a 7-2 lead again, they did not allow Amherst any closer than two points. With the score 15-12, Wesleyan reeled off 10 of the final 13 points for the 25-15 win to tie things up at one set apiece.

There were seven ties in the third frame with Amherst controlling the set. Wesleyan did not gain its first advantage until 13-12 and eventually 16-15. From there, Amherst was able to take control and just like the Cardinals in the second set, they tallied 10 of the final 13 points for the 25-19 third-set win.

Amherst had the chance to end things in the fourth set, and they were successful in doing so. Wesleyan did not make it easy though, leading by as many as three points at 14-11. The Jeffs stayed within striking distance and after tying it up at 18-18, they took a lead and never surrendered it en route to the 25-21 fourth-set victory and the match win.

The Jeffs were led by the 36 assists and 23 digs from senior Sara Heller (La Canada, CA). First-year Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, CA) notched a team-high 15 kills, while sophomore Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) led Amherst with 27 digs. Sophomore Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) added three service aces for the Jeffs.

Wesleyan was paced by senior Lisa Drennan's (Ann Arbor, MI) 21 kills and 21 digs.  Sophomore Ruby Hernandez (West Palm Beach, FL) recorded the high in digs with 28 and her teammate junior Ellie Healy (Manhattan Beach, CA) was the leader in assists with 46. First-year Alissa Santucci (Syosset, NY) was solid as well with 18 digs.

Amherst improved to 22-7 on the season and will face Williams in the final round of the 2008 NESCAC Volleyball Championship Sunday afternoon at 12 p.m. inside of Cousens Gymnasium. Wesleyan liked ended its season with a 21-7 mark.