Amherst Falls to Tufts 3-0 in NESCAC Semifinals


AMHERST, MA – The top-seeded Amherst College volleyball team played host to the 4th-seeded Jumbos of Tufts University this afternoon at LeFrak Gymnasium in the semifinals of the 2010 NESCAC Championship. The Jumbos pulled off the upset win, advancing to the championship match tomorrow with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-20) win over Amherst.  

Amherst advanced through yesterday’s opening round of play with a 3-1 win over No. 8 Wesleyan, while the Jumbos swept No. 5 Connecticut College 3-0 in their quarterfinal matchup. In today’s second semifinal, No. 6 Williams will take on No. 2 Middlebury for a chance to play Tufts in tomorrow’s NESCAC Championship title match at noon.

Amherst and Tufts met twice during the 2010 regular season, each time with the Lord Jeffs pulling out 3-1 wins. The first was a win back on Oct. 8 on the campus of Middlebury, before Amherst registered a second win on Oct. 23 at the 2010 Hall of Fame Classic.

The opening set started off fast for the Jumbos, as Tufts ran out to an early 7-0 lead. After a pair of Amherst points, back-to-back reception errors forced the Jeffs to call a timeout trailing 10-2. Amherst cut the deficit to 13-8, forcing a Tufts timeout, but the Jumbos maintained their lead at 20-13. A reception error from the Jeffs sealed the first frame 25-15 for the Jumbos.

Midway through the second set, the two teams sat deadlocked at 10-10. A monster kill from Amherst’s Katherine Kanoff (Pacific Palisades, CA) gave the Jeffs a brief lead at 12-10, but Tufts battled back to regain an advantage at 18-16. Amherst would never get closer than two points again in the set, losing 25-22.

In the third and final stanza, Abigail Hunter (Kentfield, CA) picked up two blocks in a three-point span for Amherst, tying the score 12-12 to force a Tufts timeout. The Jumbos turned to Caitlin Updike (Manhattan Beach, CA) down the stretch, as the senior rolled off another handful of her match-high 16 kills in the final set. Amherst battled in the final few rallies, but Tufts closed out the match 25-20.

Amherst was led by nine kills from Kanoff, and eight kills from each Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, CA) and Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA). Callie Neilson (Escondido, CA) had 31 assists in the loss, while senior Erin Camp (Santa Monica, CA) had a trio of aces. Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) had 33 digs in the effort.

The Jumbos were paced by Updike’s 16 kills and another 11 kills from Cara Spieler (Santa Barbara, CA). Kendall Lord (LaJolla, CA) had 40 assists in the win, while Audrey Kuan (Los Altos, CA) led four Jumbos in double-digits with 20 digs.

Amherst, the top-ranked team in the New England region, will have to wait for Monday in hopes of receiving an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament.