Jeffs Fall to Williams in NESCAC Quarterfinals, 3-0

Contact: Matthew Hart

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NEW LONDON, Conn. – Senior Emily Waterhouse tallied a team-high 10 kills but it wasn’t enough as the fourth-seeded Amherst College volleyball team fell 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-22) to fifth-seeded archrival Williams College in Friday night’s NESCAC quarterfinals, hosted by Connecticut College.

The Lord Jeffs fell to 14-9 with the loss while Williams improved to 15-11, avenging its 3-1 regular season loss at Amherst and advancing to Saturday’s semifinals, where the Ephs will face the top-seeded Camels, who defeated Colby in their first-round match. The second semifinal features No. 3 Bowdoin, which downed Tufts, and second-seeded Middlebury, a winner over Trinity.

Amherst jumped out to a 6-2 lead early in the first set, but Williams used a 16-5 run to pull ahead 18-11 and kept at least a five-point lead before posting a 25-19 win. Amherst suffered a key loss when Lauren Antion ’15 left with an injury in the middle of the first set and was unable to return to the match.

Williams cruised to a 25-15 win in the second frame, jumping out to a 10-5 advantage. The Eph lead soon hit 15-8 and never fell below seven points for the remainder of the set.

The third stanza proved the closest, as Amherst fell behind early, 8-4, but rallied to even the count at 10-10. Williams regained the lead and moved ahead by three, 17-14, and while the Jeffs did not let the deficit get any larger, the Ephs never lost the edge en route to a clinching 25-22 win.

In addition to Waterhouse’s 10 kills, Lizze Ahern ’16 tallied nine winners for Amherst. Setter Nicole Carter ’16 dished out 25 assists and notched 11 digs to lead the Jeffs in both categories.

The setback ends the NESCAC careers of Amherst’s four seniors: Abigail Hunter, Kristin Keeno, Callie Neilson, and Waterhouse. The Jeffs will keep their fingers crossed for an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament, with the bracket to be revealed Monday at 11 a.m.

Hunter has been Amherst’s top blocker this season (58), while Keeno has posted over 100 digs in each of her four seasons, including a terrific junior year in which she led the conference with 6.23 digs per set and earned a spot on CoSIDA’s Academic All-District team. Neilson starred at setter as a sophomore and junior, ranking sixth in the nation with 11.28 assists per game in 2010, while Waterhouse has been a versatile force as a senior, ranking second on the team in kills (188) and third in digs (197).

The quartet of Amherst seniors has posted a 79-28 record over an outstanding four years in Purple and White. Their run has featured three 20-win campaigns, including a memorable 25-4 season and a trip to the NCAA Regional Semifinals in 2010.

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