NESCAC Women’s Volleyball Championship Preview: Mammoths, Panthers to Clash in Quarters

NESCAC Women’s Volleyball Championship Preview: Mammoths, Panthers to Clash in Quarters

HADLEY, Mass. – Amherst College has earned the number four seed in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) postseason, and the stage is set for a first-round matchup against Middlebury College on Friday night at 7:30 PM.

The 2019 NESCAC Volleyball Championship will be hosted by Tufts University over the course of this weekend.  Quarterfinal round action gets underway on Friday, November 8th. Semifinal matches will be played on Saturday, November 3, followed by the championship game on Sunday, November 4.

NESCAC VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL


Live Coverage

All of Amherst's games this weekend will be live broadcast on the Mammoths Sports Network, powered by NSN. Games can be accessed by going to amherstmammoths.tv.

Any games not featuring the Mammoths will also be broadcast by NSN, and can be accessed at the following link: https://www.nsnsports.net/conferences/nescac

In addition, live stats will be available for all games, with links in the championship central page.


Setting the Scene
 

Amherst (19-5, 7-3 NESCAC), the 2018 NESCAC Runner-Up, earned the No. 4 seed and has competed in every NESCAC Championship since 1999. 

The Mammoths are the fourth seed for the first time since 2012 and have advanced to the semifinals six straight times. Amherst won its third and most recent NESCAC title in 2006. 

The Mammoths will meet No. 5 Middlebury (14-9, 6-4 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Panthers are the No. 5 seed for the second time in three years and have also qualified for every NESCAC Championship since 1999. Middlebury seeks a spot in the semifinals for the first time since its championship run in 2016, when it won the most recent of its three NESCAC titles. 

Amherst earned a 3-0 victory over Middlebury on September 27 and owns a 3-1 lead in the four meetings between the two teams in the NESCAC Tournament. The Panthers picked up their first victory over the Mammoths, 3-0, in the most recent meeting in the 2016 semifinal. 

Scouting Amherst College

  • Amherst is second in the NESCAC in total kills (1040), attack percentage (.245), and assists (976). The Mammoths are third in the conference with 146 total blocks.
  • Emily Kolsky '20 leads the conference with 287 kills, and is second behind Hamilton's Giuliana Rankin with 3.54 kills per set. Earlier this year, Kolsky reached the 1,000 kills plateau for her career.
  • Sophie Launsbach '22 is the conference leader in hitting percentage, attacking at a .445 clip this year. Launsbach led the nation in hitting percentage for much of the year, but missed time in the middle of the season means she has not played enough sets to currently be eligible for the national award.
  • On the blocking front, Alex Rone '22 and Claire Dennis '20 are both among the NESCAC leaders in blocks per set. Rone is averaging 0.95 blocks per set, trailing only Cori Gray of Bowdoin. Dennis sits tied for fourth in the conference with a 0.91 block average.
  • Charlotte Duran '20 is second in the NESCAC with 7.66 assists per set. Duran has 582 total assists, good for fourth in the conference, despite the Mammoths transitioning to a two-setter offense in the middle of the season. Jacqueline Kortekaas '23 has joined Duran at the setter position and has 275 assists, an average of 5.39 per set.
  • Sophomore Skyleur Savage leads the team with 302 digs as Amherst is second in the NESCAC with 18.42 digs per set. 

Scouting the Rest of the Tournament Field 

Tufts (23-1, 10-0 NESCAC) finished the season with a perfect 10-0 mark in league play for the fourth time since 2000. The Jumbos' unblemished record in conference action marks the 11th time since 2000 a team has posted an undefeated NESCAC record. Tufts, which has qualified for every NESCAC Championship since 2000, is the No. 1 seed for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2017. The Jumbos have advanced to the semifinals three straight years and five times in the last six seasons. Tufts won its lone NESCAC title in 1996 and has played in two of the last three championship matches. 

The top-seeded Jumbos will face No. 8 Hamilton (10-13, 3-7 NESCAC) in the quarterfinal round. The Continentals are making their third NESCAC Championship appearance and the second in three years. Hamilton is seeking its first NESCAC Tournament win in program history. Tufts defeated Hamilton, 3-0, on October 4 and the quarterfinal match marks the first meeting between the two schools in NESCAC Championship play in the existing tournament format. 

Wesleyan (19-3, 9-1 NESCAC) has qualified for the NESCAC Championship for the fourth year in a row and is the No. 2 seed for the third straight year. The Cardinals have reached the semifinals in back-to-back seasons and won their first NESCAC title in 2017. 

Wesleyan will play No. 7 Bates (16-9, 4-6 NESCAC) in a quarterfinal match for the second straight year. The Bobcats have qualified for the NESCAC Tournament for the fifth straight season and are looking for their first NESCAC Tournament victory since 2003. Bates' 16 wins this season are the most since 2009. The Bobcats won four straight NESCAC titles from 1990 to 1993. Wesleyan posted a 3-1 victory over Bates on October 5 and the NESCAC Championship series is tied up at 2-2. The Cardinals won last year's quarterfinal contest, 3-0. 

Bowdoin (16-6, 8-2 NESCAC), the defending NESCAC Champion, is the No. 3 seed in 2019. The Polar Bears have played in 14 straight NESCAC Championships and have advanced to the semifinals eight straight years. Bowdoin owns three NESCAC Championships overall and was most recently the No. 3 seed in 2017. 

No. 6 Williams (14-10, 5-5 NESCAC) has played in every NESCAC Championship since 1999, are the No. 6 seed for the second consecutive season. Williams, which has won 11 NESCAC titles, looks to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2015. Bowdoin pulled out a five-set, 3-2, victory over the Ephs on October 4, but the Ephs own a 4-2 edge in the NESCAC postseason series. The Polar Bears won the last meeting in the 2016 quarterfinals, 3-1.


2019 NESCAC Volleyball Tournament

Friday-Sunday, November 8-10
Hosted by No. 1 Tufts
 

Quarterfinals - Friday, November 8
No. 8 Hamilton vs. No. 1 Tufts - 5:00 p.m. (Court 1)
No. 7 Bates vs. No. 2 Wesleyan - 5:00 p.m. (Court 2)
No. 6 Williams vs. No. 3 Bowdoin - 7:30 p.m. (Court 1)
No. 5 Middlebury vs. No. 4 Amherst - 7:30 p.m. (Court 2) 

Semifinals - Saturday, November 9
No. 4/5 winner vs. No. 1/8 winner - 1:00 p.m.
No. 3/6 winner vs. No. 2/7 winner - 3:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 10
Semifinal Winners - 12:00 p.m.