Courtesy Amherst Sports Information
BRUNSWICK, Maine – After ten years of waiting and six consecutive semifinals appearances, Amherst College will get to play for the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) women's volleyball championship on Sunday afternoon at 12:00 PM.
The third-seeded Mammoths booked their ticket to the title game with a 3-0 win over No. 2 Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon on the campus of top-seeded Bowdoin, who will be their opponent in the final.
Amherst (22-4) turned the tables on Wesleyan with a sweep by set scores of 25-21, 25-21 and 25-22. The Cardinals (17-5) had been one of only two teams to beat Amherst 3-0 during the regular season.
Continuing an outstanding tournament to this point, Emily Kolsky led all players with 16 kills after racking up a career-high 24 in Friday night's win over Williams. Sophie Launsbach had 12 kills and only two errors for a .455 hitting percentage, and Charlotte Duran paced the offense with 40 assists.
Wesleyan took a 2-0 lead in all three sets, but Amherst was able to fight its way back each time, particularly in the third set, where it overcame a 10-6 deficit with a 6-0 run before a Kolsky kill sealed the match.
Amherst trailed 17-11 in the opening frame, but scored eight of the next ten points to tie the game at 19. Kills from Nicole Hilton and Mia Jago gave Wesleyan a two-point lead again, but Amherst finished the set with six straight points, ending with a kill by Launsbach.
In the middle set, Amherst took a 6-3 lead after an early 6-1 spurt, but Wesleyan took a 15-14 lead with a 5-0 run of their own. A kill by Cameron Hendricks, one of eight in the match, put Amherst back in front and they never looked back, with Kolsky finishing the set with a kill, and Amherst had a 2-0 advantage.
Duran totaled 13 digs to complete her double-double, while Hayes Honea and Candace Chung each had 14 digs and Skyleur Savage had 13 digs. Jamie Dailey had 9 kills and 1.5 blocks, while Claire Dennis was in on 3.5 blocks in the win.
Wesleyan was led by Stasie Litinsky with 11 kills and a .219 hitting percentage. Hilton had nine kills and hit .421, while Kaira Muraoka-Robertson had a doube-double with 29 assists and 11 digs.
Amherst can win its fourth NESCAC title and first since 2006 with a win over Bowdoin tomorrow afternoon. The Polar Bears (26-1) have won 16 in a row, but needed a five-set comeback to defeat Tufts in the semifinals today. Bowdoin beat Amherst 3-1 in Maine on October 6.
The Cardinals will wait to learn their fate on Monday when the NCAA announces the selections for the 2018 tournament.