Volleyball Season Preview: Amherst Returns Talent, Depth for 2017

Volleyball Season Preview: Amherst Returns Talent, Depth for 2017

Capturing the program's fourth consecutive No. 3 seed and returning to the NESCAC Championship for the 18th-straight season last fall, the 2017 Amherst College volleyball team starts its bid to build on the accomplishments of last season and return to the league finals for the first time since 2008 on Wednesday, Sept. 6 with a 7 p.m. non-conference match at Springfield.

Led by head coach Sue Everden, the Mammoths remain positioned for a successful year on the court, boasting a squad that features 11 returners (four seniors, two juniors, five sophomores) from last year's team that finished with a 17-9 overall ledger and a 7-3 mark in NESCAC play. 

Welcoming back an abundance of skill at outside hitter, Lauren Reppert '19 and Emily Kolsky '20 take to the floor after appearing in all 26 matches for Amherst last season. With 143.5 total points, Kolsky was one of the Mammoths top point-getters and added 125 kills and 344 attacks, while Reppert cataloged 94 kills, 314 attacks and 44 blocks.

Headlining the setter position are Charlotte Duran '20 and Adelaide Shunk '20, with both student-athletes poised to run the floor for the Mammoths. Duran enjoyed a productive debut season, tallying 152 digs and a team-high 429 assists, while Shunk recorded a 2.09 assists per set average.

At the net, Marialexa Natsis '18, Annika Reczek '18 and Claire Dennis '20 are primed to be difference makers. Natsis was stellar for Amherst in her junior campaign, leading the squad in total blocks with 77 and notching 251.0 total points. With 197 kills and 511 attacks in 2016, the Los Angeles, Calif. native leads all returners in both categories, while Reczek and Dennis look to build on their 70 blocks (T-7 NESACAC) and 38 kills, respectively, from a year ago.

Led by Hayes Honea '19, the Mammoths return depth and experience to the transition game. More than doubling her dig total from her rookie season, Honea amassed 492 digs last fall (5.86 d/s) to lead Amherst and rank third overall in the NESCAC in addition to posting 49 assists and a team-high 24 services aces. 

Asha Walker '18 also looks to build on a solid 2016, with Walker returning to the court after tying for second on the team in service aces with 22 and registering a noteworthy 167 digs last season. Kate Antion '18 and Candace Chung '20 round out the Mammoths' veteran defensive specialists, with the duo expected to make significant contributions in the backcourt.

Amherst begins 2017 with five away matches, first traveling to Springfield on Wednesday, Sept. 6 for its season opener beginning at 7 p.m. The Mammoths then square off against Western New England (9/8) before taking on Emerson and Colby in a double-header on Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. Following a midweek non-conference matchup against Endicott (9/ 13), Amherst returns to the Pioneer Valley and welcomes Middlebury to LeFrak Gymnasium on Sept. 15 for its lone home contest of September starting at 8 p.m.

The Mammoths close out the first month of the season with nine road matches, battling Saint Joseph's and Regis (9/16) in Weston, Mass. before traveling to Westfield State (9/19) and Trinity (9/22). A non-league tri-match with Husson and host Colby-Sawyer is slated for Sept. 23 and is followed by a NESCAC bout against Connecticut College on Sept. 29. Amherst travels to Little III rival Wesleyan a day later, hitting the court against the Cardinals at 11 a.m. and non-league foe Stevens at 1 p.m.

October kicks off with back-to-back NESCAC opponents at home, as Tufts and Bowdoin take on the Mammoths on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7, respectively. Amherst then travels to Clark University (10/11), Hamilton (10/13) and archrival Williams (10/14) before closing out the regular season with five consecutive matches at LeFrak Gymnasium.

After hosting Wellesley on Oct.20, the Mammoths are set to play Coast Guard and WPI in their annual Hall of Fame Invitational tournament on Saturday, Oct. 21. Amherst ends the regular season with two league matches, squaring off against Bates on Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. and Colby on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.

Not yet a member of the Friends of Amherst Women's Volleyball for the 2017-18 year? Become a first-time member of or renew your membership in the FAA and support Coach Everden and the women's volleyball program. Make a gift ahead of the team's season opener at Springfield on Wednesday, September 6 beginning at 7 p.m. Go Mammoths!