Volleyball Set To Defend NESCAC Title

November 4, 2013

Williams wrapped up the 2013 campaign with an unblemished conference mark of 10-0 to earn the top seed in the NESCAC Volleyball Championship for the first time since 2006. The Ephs also earned the right to host all rounds of the tournament at Lasell Gymnasium.  Quarterfinal round action is slated to get underway on Friday, November 8 at 5 p.m. Semifinal matches will be played on Saturday, November 9 followed by the championship game on Sunday, November 10.

Williams (22-4, 10-0 NESCAC) dominated conference play, dropping just four sets during league competition. Most of the Eph victories have been by the score of 3-0, as Williams has posted 17 straight-set wins. Much of the Ephs’ success is predicated on a potent offense that averages more than 13 kills per set and hits over .275 as a team. Williams closed out the regular season with a 3-0 victory at Wesleyan today. The Ephs have won a league-best nine NESCAC titles with the most recent titles coming in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Williams opens play against Bates (11-17, 2-8 NESCAC). The Bobcats closed out the season with a 2-4 record over the final two weeks. They finished in a deadlock for eighth place with Colby and Wesleyan, but were awarded the final playoff slot due to a 3-2 triumph over the Mules on October 5 and a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on October 19. Bates took home four straight conference titles from 1990-93. The Ephs defeated the Bobcats, 3-0, on September 20. Williams owns a 2-0 edge in the post-season series versus Bates, but have not met since the 2003 final where the Ephs prevailed 3-0.

Bowdoin (21-6, 8-2 NESCAC) earned the second seed by defeating Hamilton in straight sets today for its third consecutive 20-win season. In the second half of the season, the Polar Bears rattled off a 12-match winning streak that ended on October 26 following a straight-set loss to Wellesley. The Polar Bears are in search of their second overall NESCAC trophy, having captured their lone title in 2011 after defeating Middlebury, 3-0. Bowdoin’s quarterfinal opponent is Trinity (15-11, 5-5 NESCAC). The Bantams, which went 8-2 at home, closed out the regular season with a straight-set set win over Amherst. Trinity raced out to a 7-2 record against non-conference opponents to start the season. The Bantams have a scrappy defense that leads the league in digs per set (18.12). Trinity is looking for its elusive first NESCAC title, as it makes its 12th NESCAC Championship appearance. Bowdoin won this year’s meeting versus the Bantams, 3-0, on October 19. The Polar Bears won the only NESCAC Championship match-up between the two teams, which was in a 2011 semifinal, 3-1. 

Amherst and Tufts were tied for third place in the standings, but the Lord Jeffs defeated the Jumbos, 3-1, on October 5 to win the tiebreaker. Amherst (19-7, 7-3 NESCAC) enters the championship as one of the hottest teams in the league despite wrapping up the regular season with a 3-0 loss at Trinity. The Lord Jeffs went 8-5 in September, but have gone 12-2 since then, losing only eight sets during that stretch. Amherst fields the youngest team in the post-season with no seniors and just one junior on the roster. That has not stopped the Lord Jeffs from being one of the best all-around teams in the conference, though. They rank third in kills per set (11.86) and blocks per set (2.06) and second in digs per set (16.80). Amherst hopes to add a fourth NESCAC title to its trophy case to go along with championships won in 1999, 2000 and 2006. The Lord Jeffs will face sixth-seed Middlebury (18-6, 5-5 NESCAC), the defending champion and winners of two of the last three NESCAC titles, in the quarterfinal round. The Panthers moved into a tie for sixth in the standings after defeating Bates, 3-1, this afternoon, and won the tiebreaker over Trinity courtesy of Middlebury’s straight-set win against the Bantams on October 5. This season Amherst and Middlebury split a pair of games, with the Lord Jeffs winning the conference meeting, 3-1, but the Panthers avenged the loss last week in a 3-2 victory. Middlebury, which is pursuing its fifth overall league title, has the most experienced roster in the tournament with three seniors and three juniors. Amherst owns a 2-0 record against the Panthers in the NESCAC Championship with the most recent result being a 3-2 win in the 2009 quarterfinal.  

Fourth-seeded Tufts (19-7, 7-3 NESCAC) is riding a seven-match winning streak after going 1-3 at the start of October. The Jumbos ended conference play with a 3-1 victory over Colby this afternoon. Tufts is one of the top blocking teams in the league, ranking second with 2.35 blocks per set, and one of the most efficient hitting teams, ranking third with a .211 hitting percentage. In the last six years, the Jumbos have advanced to the semifinals five times with the lone loss coming to Bowdoin in a 3-0 quarterfinal decision a year ago. Tufts took home the title in 1996 and has advanced to the finals seven times. Squaring off against the Jumbos in the remaining quarterfinal is Connecticut College (15-11, 6-4 NESCAC). Last year’s No. 1 seed, the Camels advanced to the NESCAC final for the first time in program history, but came up short in a 3-0 loss to Middlebury. This season Connecticut College went 10-0 on its home court, and closed out the regular season 8-2 to earn its ninth consecutive NESCAC Championship berth. Tufts won the annual meeting between the two squads in straight sets on September 28.

Results for the NESCAC Volleyball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.

2013 NESCAC Volleyball Championship Schedule
Hosted by Williams College
Quarterfinals - Friday, November 8
#8 Bates at #1 Williams – 5 p.m.
#7 Trinity vs. #2 Bowdoin – 5 p.m.
#6 Middlebury vs. #3 Amherst – 8 p.m.
#5 Connecticut College vs. #4 Tufts – 8 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, November 9
Winner of 1/8 vs. Winner of 4/5 – 1 p.m.
Winner of 2/7 vs. Winner of 3/6 – 3:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 10
Semifinal Winners - Noon

--courtesy NESCAC--