Amherst Falls to Tufts 3-1 in Regular Season Finale

Jackie Berkley_erik
Jackie Berkley had 13 kills on just 20 attacks
in the losing effort.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College volleyball team played host to Tufts University this afternoon at LeFrak Gymnasium in Amherst, Mass. to close out the 2009 regular season for both teams. Amherst dropped a 3-1 heartbreaker to fall to 19-7 (6-4 NESCAC), while Tufts locked up the top-seed in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament and hosting duties with a 26-3 (8-2) mark.

Midway through the first set, the two teams sat tied at 12-12, before Tufts opened up a 19-14 lead to force an Amherst timeout. After the break, Tufts scored three straight points to take a commanding 22-14 lead, en route to a 25-16 win on an unassisted kills by Lexi Nicholas.

In the first set, Caitlin Updike and Dawson Joyce-Mendive combined for nine kills to lead the Jumbos, while Amherst’s hitters had just eight kills in the frame.

The second set was a different story for the Lord Jeffs, as Amherst started out on 5-1 rally. During the strong start, Amherst sophomore Katherine Kanoff (Pacific Palisades, CA) served up a pair of aces, while classmate Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, CA) had a nice tip kill.

A kill by junior tri-captain Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) put Amherst up 11-6, and forced Tufts  to use a timeout. Later in the set, a hitting error by Brittany Neff caused Tufts to call another timeout trailing 17-11.

Down 20-15, Nancy Shrodes came off the bench to serve for Tufts after service errors had tripped up the Jumbos. Tufts scored on back-to-back Shrodes serves, before another Berkley kill put Amherst ahead 21-17. The Jeffs went on to win 25-20 on a punishing kill by Meier that caromed off a Tufts player all the way to the back scoreboard.

Early in the third frame, Tufts took an 8-4 lead as the Jumbo hitters scored multiple points on off-speed tip kills, while the Lord Jeff front line struggled to find their rhythm from set two. The Jumbos extended their lead to 17-12, forcing Amherst head coach Sue Everden to use another timeout.

Cristy Meier had 12 kills for Amherst in the loss.

Tufts ended the third set on an 8-4 run as the combination of Updike and Brogie Helgeson took over down the stretch. With the 25-16 win, the Jumbos took a 2-1 lead and inched closer to clinching the top-seed in the NESCAC Tournament.

Amherst turned the tables to start the fourth set, taking a 13-9 lead as first-year Emily Waterhouse (Sherman Oaks, CA) dished out a pair of assists during a mid-set run to keep the Jeffs in front.

Tufts drew even at 14-14 on a clever kill by Joyce-Mendive, before going up 18-16 as Joyce-Mendive had eight kills on just nine attacks midway through the set. Amherst responded with big kills from Laura Hyman and Kanoff, closing the gap to one point, before drawing even at 22-22 on a Tufts hitting error. The Lord Jeffs tied the game again at 24-24 on back-to-back kills from Meier, before a Tufts kill and an Amherst hitting error sealed the win 26-24 for the Jumbos.

On the day, Amherst was led by Berkley who was superb with 13 kills and no errors on just 20 attacks. Meier and Laura Hyman (Glencoe, IL) combined for 20 additional kills, while Kanoff chipped in with seven kills. Katherine Jordan (Los Altos Hills, CA) dished out 36 assists with 13 digs for Amherst, while Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) had a team-high 15 kills.

For the Jumbos, Updike had a team-high 10 kills, while Joyce-Mendive added 20 kills on just 35 attacks. Dena Feiger dished out 59 assists for Tufts, while Audrey Kuan had a match-high 30 digs.

The 2009 NESCAC Championship Tournament will take place November 6-8 at Tufts University, with match-ups and times still to be determined following the conclusion of this afternoon’s final conference matches.