This past weekend, the third-seeded Amherst volleyball team came up just short in its quest for the program’s first NESCAC tournament crown in over a decade, falling to top-seeded tournament host Bowdoin, 3-1, in the final.
In the quarterfinals, Amherst needed five sets to defeat archrival Williams before winning against Wesleyan, the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals.
This was the sixth straight year that Amherst has made the NESCAC semifinals, but it was the Mammoths’ first appearance in the title match since 2008.
On Friday, Nov. 2, Amherst opened tournament play against the sixth-seeded Ephs.
It was a tightly-contested match from the very beginning, as the teams traded leads for the majority of the first set, before a late run by Williams propelled the Ephs to a 25-23 win in the first.
Amherst dominated the second set, though, putting together a 15-5 run to win 25-11 and knot the match at one set apiece.
The third set mirrored the first in its constant back and forth, with late kills by Jamie Dailey ’21 ultimately sealing the 25-22 Amherst win.
Williams would not quit, though, scoring seven of the last 10 points to win the fourth set 25-21.
In the fifth and final set, Amherst battled back from an early deficit to take the deciding frame, 15-12, and seal progress to the tournament semifinals.
In the win, Emily Kolsky ’20 led all players with 24 kills, and Skyleur Savage ’22 finished with 28 digs.
Additionally, the Mammoths received three blocks each from Cam Hendricks ’20 and Claire Dennis ’20.
On Saturday, Amherst took on Wesleyan, whom the Firedogs had lost to earlier in the season, with a trip to the championship on the line.
Amherst struggled early in the first set, trailing 17-11, but fought back to win 25-21.
In the second, Amherst maintained a small lead throughout the entirety of the set and held off a late Cardinal comeback to win, 25-21.
It took just one more set to seal Firedogs place in the finals, as Amherst put together a late comeback of its own to seal the straight-set sweep.
Kolsky led the Firedogs with 16 kills and Duran added a double-double with 40 assists and 15 digs.
Hayes Honea ’19 and Candace Chung ’20 each contributed 14 digs alongside 12 kills from Sophie Launsbach ’22.
On Sunday, Nov. 4, Amherst faced the tournament host, the 26-1 Bowdoin Polar Bears, in the NESCAC championship match. In the first frame, the teams traded points before Bowdoin broke away to win 25-19. In the second, Amherst jumped out to a 10-1 lead and coasted to a 25-16 set win.
The Firedogs used their momentum to take a 2-0 lead in the third, but a strong Polar Bear push led to a 25-13 Bowdoin win.
In the fourth and final set, Amherst quickly fell behind and was never able to recover, losing 25-13.
In the defeat, Kolsky had 15 kills, while Dailey and Dennis each had eight.
Duran finished the match with 35 assists and 21 digs, and Savage added 22 digs of her own.
On Monday, the NCAA announced the postseason tournament seeds and Amherst was expected to get a bid.
The draw, however, was not in the Mammoths’ favour, and Amherst failed to qualify for what would be only their eighth tournament appearance in school history.