Firedogs expect to improve on first loss

Despite solid play on Sunday, the Firedogs were unable to overcome the scrappy playing style of their opponent and ceded the match after five games.

The Firedogs came out strong, winning the first game (30-21) and the second (30-28), but proceeded to lose their mental edge, dropping the third and fourth games by the slimmest of margins (28-30), (30-32). The team rallied in the final game but was ultimately unable to generate enough momentum to put it away and lost the fifth (13-15).

Hitter Nikki Davidson ’05 led the team with nine kills while Kristin Quinn ’07 added seven. Defensively, the Firedogs were paced by co-captain Jessica Allen ’04 and first-year Mikela Yarawamai with 19 and 14 digs, respectively.

The loss, though disappointing, will prove to be a positive experience for the squad. “This loss showed us we have a lot of things to work on, but we’re not going to dwell on it,” said Allen. Among the aspects cited for fine-tuning were a general increase in mental toughness and making the most of attack opportunities. Of the 197 attack attempts, the team was only able to convert 36 into kills, a percentage that will surely increase as the offense begins to fall into place.

Though Allen noted several areas for improvement, she also touted the depth of the squad. “I feel comfortable with anyone out on the court; this is a very talented team,” said Allen. “I’m confident in everyone’s ability to step out on the court and get the job done.”

Despite Sunday’s outcome, setter Annie Hoeksma ’05 also maintained confidence in her team’s prospects. “We have a really strong offense, and all our hitters can hit anything in any position,” Hoeksma said. She added that strength and depth of her teammates, “makes it easy to run different plays to throw off the other team.”

The deep nature of Amherst’s bench will undoubtedly give Coach Sue Everden several options when creating effective lineups. By varying the attack and substituting in fresh legs, the Firedogs should be able to keep opponents off balance and outlast them through long matches.

The Firedogs must now continue a grueling week of non-league games. Thursday they face Smith College and this weekend, the team will compete in the Western New England College Invitational Tournament.