Amherst Pulls Out 3-2 Win Over Middlebury in NESCACs

NESCAC logoFrom a Tufts University release

MEDFORD, MA - The 5th-seeded Amherst College volleyball team opened up play at the 2009 NESCAC Championship Tournament this evening facing off against No. 4 Midldebury College at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of top-seed and host Tufts University. The Lord Jeffs rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 17-25, 25-21,15-13), and punch a ticket for tomorrow afternoon's semifinal match against the No.1 Jumobs at 1 p.m. Tomorrow's match will be webcast live via JumboCast.

During the regular season, Amherst and Middlebury played twice, splitting the season series. Middlebury picked up an early season 3-0 win over Amherst in non-conference play, before the Jeffs topped the Panthers 3-2 a week later in NESCAC action.

Amherst dominated the first set, scoring eight straight points to build an 8-1 advantage. The Lord Jeffs’ lead grew to as much as ten at 20-10. Middlebury fought back strong in the set to pull within five at 21-16, but Amherst pushed back to finish off a 25-19 first-set victory.

Middlebury would control the second set as Amherst held the lead just twice at 1-0 and 8-7.  The Panthers’ largest lead stood at six at 24-18 and they took the set 25-21.  Middlebury took the lead at 5-4 in the third set and never looked back on their way to a 25-17 win and a 2-1 advantage.

It looked as if the Panthers would pull away and win the fourth set as they led for the vast majority.  Amherst would take their first lead of the set at 14-13, but Middlebury would come back and re-take the lead at 15-14.  The two teams were tied nine times from 13-13 to 21-21.  Amherst would score the final four points of the set to force a fifth and decisive set.

The Panthers would assume the lead to begin the fifth set and were in control late at 13-11, but the Lord Jeffs were resilient and tallied four points in a row once again, and won the fifth set 15-13. 

Amherst was led by 19 kills from sophomore Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, CA). She was also in on six blocks. Classmate Katherine Kanoff (Pacific Palisades, CA) added 14 kills and five service aces to the Amherst attack. On defense, the winners got 20 digs from senior tri-captain Bethany Belisle (Austin, TX).  Junior tri-captain Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) also had six blocks for Amherst.

On the Middlebury side, sophomore Jane Handel (Evanston, IL) had a match-high 23 kills, while sophomore Caroline Cordle (Atlanta, GA) backed her up with 15. Both had two of the Panthers’ nine aces. They were also the leaders of Middlebury’s defense, with 27 digs from Cordle and four blocks by Handel. Senior tri-captain Natalie DuPre (Louisville, KY) had 18 digs for the Panthers, who finished their season at 20-6.