AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst College volleyball team forced a decisive fifth set but fell short against archrival Williams in a NESCAC thriller Friday night at LeFrak Gymnasium, 3-2.
The match was highly competitive from the start and featured 49 ties and 26 lead changes as Williams prevailed by scores of 25-21, 20-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-13. Falling short in the team's home opener, Amherst is now 8-3 overall and 2-1 in the NESCAC, while the Ephs improve to 10-1 on the year and 3-0 in league play.
Leading the squad offensively for the Jeffs were Lizzie Ahern '16, Maggie Danner '17 and Nicole Carter '16. Ahern posted a double-double with a team-high 13 kills and notched 17 digs. Danner registered 11 kills and Carter dished out 41 assists. Defensively, Katie Warshaw '16 recorded a team-high 24 digs and Kelci Keeno '17 added 20.
Four Ephs players recorded double-digit kills with Tori Jasuta leading the way with a game-high 20. She also added 15 digs to complete the double-double. Katherine Lane, Claire Miller and Raea Rasmussen tallied 13, 11 and 10, respectively. Ryan Farley registered a game-high 53 assists while six players posted double-digit numbers in digs.
Both teams exchanged points early and often in the first set. Tied at 12-12, an Ephs' kill followed by an Amherst error put the visitors up two, the largest margin of the game to that point. However, a kill from Nicole Gould '16 shortly after evened the score at 15-15. Several points later, Williams went ahead by two once again, 18-16, and never looked back, scoring seven of the next 12 points to take a 1-0 lead in the match (25-21).
The visitor's momentum carried into the second set as they jumped out to a 6-2 advantage, but an attack error by the Ephs sparked an 8-3 Amherst run as they went ahead, 11-10. After a series of back-and-forth action, the Jeffs scored six straight behind a pair of kills from Danner to take a 21-15 lead. After an attack error by the Jeffs cut the margin to three, Amherst called a timeout and answered, scoring consecutive points as Ahern put the set away, 25-20.
The third set featured more exciting action between the archrivals with five lead changes and nine ties. Three straight errors by the Jeffs gave Williams the largest lead of the frame, up 16-11. The five-point margin, however, was short-lived as Amherst scored seven of the next nine points to even the score at 18-18. Ahern eventually gave the Jeffs a 20-19 advantage but Tori Jasuta helped lift Williams past the home team with two kills as the Ephs scored the final four points to claim a 25-21 win.
Trailing 2-1 in the match and 18-16 in the set, the Jeffs rallied to score four straight as a Danner kill forced a Williams' a timeout. Out of the break, the Ephs went on a run of their own and jumped ahead 22-21. A kill by Ahern followed by a Gould kill put Amherst back up, 23-22, until Catherine Egan evened the score. With the game eventually tied at 24-24, a bad set by the Ephs followed by a kill from Marialexa Natsis '18 forced a decisive set five.
Williams came out strong to start the fifth frame and jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but an Ahern kill sparked a 9-3 Jeff run as they pulled ahead, 12-9. After a Williams timeout, the Ephs went on a 5-0 run of their own to take a 14-12 lead. Gould cut the deficit to one but it wasn't enough as Williams claimed the set and the match.
The Jeffs return to the court tomorrow, Sept. 27 for a doubleheader at Clark. The first match is scheduled for 11 a.m. against the Cougars followed by a 1 p.m. start versus Babson.