2007 Season Preview
2006 Season Recap
The 2006 squad had one of the most successful seasons in program history, finishing with an impressive overall record of 28-5 (7-3 NESCAC), which marked the highest win percentage (84.8%) and second highest win total of head coach Sue Everden’s 21-year tenure. The Jeffs went on a 14-match win streak from Sept. 20 to Oct. 14, finishing the regular season in a four-way tie for second place in the conference standings. Amherst earned a No. 3 seed in the NESCAC Tournament, during which the Jeffs avenged all three of their regular season in-conference losses, defeating No. 6 Trinity in the first round, No. 2 Wesleyan in the semifinals and top-seed Williams in the championship match to win a NESCAC title for the first time since 2000, also advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000. Amherst defeated Emmanuel College in the opening round of the national tournament, but fell to powerhouse MIT in the second round. The Jeffs finished the 2006 season leading the NESCAC in blocks per game (3.18), hitting percentage (.305) and overall win percentage.
Amherst loses the services of two senior co-captains, both members of the 2006 NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team. Defensive specialist Laura Golden was one of four Jeffs to play in all 117 of Amherst’s games last season, finishing fourth on the team in digs per game (2.70). Golden played a significant role in the Jeffs’ NESCAC championship run, as she led her team in digs in both the quarterfinal and semifinal matches before picking up 15 digs in the championship match with Williams.
Middle hitter Kristin Quinn made a significant case for 2006 NESCAC Player of the Year after racking up numerous accolades and astounding statistics. By season’s end, Quinn was named an All-NESCAC First Team member, NEWVA New England Player of the Year, AVCA All-America Honorable Mention, NESCAC Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 8, and earned All-Tournament honors at the Wesleyan Invite, Roger Williams Invite, and Hall of Fame Tournament. Quinn led the NESCAC and finished second in the nation with a .464 hitting percentage, and led the NESCAC and finished third in the nation with 1.79 blocks per game. The next highest hitting percentage in the NESCAC was .359, while the next highest blocking average was 1.34 bpg.
Despite the loss of two talented senior leaders, the Class of 2008 should prove to be an even more dangerous senior class. Outside hitters Whitney Kouvaris and Jaclyn DeMais should be able to fill the hole left by Quinn, as they finished last season with the NESCAC’s second and fourth highest hitting percentages, respectively. Both players earned NESCAC Fall All-Academic honors, while DeMais was also named to the All-NESCAC First Team and All-Tournament Team at the Wesleyan Invite, adding a Player of the Week nod for the week of Nov. 3. Rounding out the senior class will be defensive specialist Julie Berkley, also a NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team member last season. Berkley led last year’s squad in service aces per game (0.60) and digs per game (3.49).
Setting up the potent Amherst attack will be junior Sara Heller, who led the NESCAC in assists (1,323) and finished second in assists per game (11.31) last season, adding All-Tournament honors at the Roger Williams Invite. Also representing the junior class will be three promising hitters: Alison Munzer, Hannah Wirth and Claire Holton-Basaldua. Munzer finished last season 13th in the NESCAC in hitting percentage (.234), Wirth finished 10th in blocks per game (0.80) and Holton-Basaldua finished second on the Jeffs in blocks (73) and fourth in kills (125). Rounding out the returning players is sophomore defensive specialist Bethany Belisle, who played in all 117 games as a first-year, earned All-Tournament honors at the Hall of Fame Tournament, and finished third on Amherst in digs per game (2.80). During nearly every match last season, Belisle brought a quirky, fun attitude to the court, which seemed to keep the Amherst squad relaxed at all times.
Amherst’s rookie class has the potential to immediately contribute to an already-impressive Lord Jeff roster. Berkley’s sister, Jackie, and Laura Hyman both stand six feet tall, and should add even more pop to the Amherst attack. Rachel Yorke is a talented, quick player who will serve as a defensive specialist, while Erin Camp can play as both an outside hitter and defensive specialist. Rounding out the first-years is setter Katherine Jordan, who will not only allow Heller to get valuable rest, but will also allow the Jeffs to run different options on offense.
The class of 2007 left a big hole, but the members of this year’s squad are certainly capable of filling it. The Jeffs have an impressive mix of veterans and rookies, and have several qualities of a winning team; but with a NESCAC title to defend, Amherst will have a target on its back all season long. The Jeffs can expect another close race in the conference standings, but certainly have what it takes to take home another championship.