Volleyball: Firedogs fight mightily at Wesleyan Invitational

The ‘Dogs’ first game, a rematch against host Wesleyan on Friday, ended in a disappointing loss after four games (30-27, 30-23, 22-30, 30-24). The ‘Dogs had previously beaten the Cardinals in a NESCAC match on Sept. 18.

First-year standout outside hitter Jaclyn DeMais anchored the offense with 10 kills and four digs to aid the defense. Senior co-captain outside hitter Nikki Davidson put in nine solid kills and two aces. Unfortunately, even this offense combined with Hoeksma’s outstanding 23 assists was not sufficient to hold the Cardinals back.

Junior outside hitter Kate Raddock and first-year libero Julie Berkley provided the majority of the defense with 13 and 10 digs, respectively; both Raddock and Berkley added three aces apiece. An ankle injury during the third game in the match against Wesleyan prevented sophomore outside hitter Kristin Quinn from completing the match; however, she was able to play against Smith and Wesleyan on Saturday.

“We weren’t playing our game,” said Hoeksma. “And I think we were all making mistakes at different times and just couldn’t put the ball away.”

Davidson attributed the loss to overconfidence. “We came into the match assuming that we were going to win, while they came in determined to beat us,” she said. “As a result, we made a lot of unforced errors and allowed them to win a lot of early points.”

Although they rallied with a win in the third game, the ‘Dogs were not able to recover from two devastating losses early in the match.

Saturday’s first match began along the same lines as Friday’s contest as Amherst dropped its first game against Smith. Nevertheless, the ‘Dogs managed to pull through and win the next three games for a 25-30, 30-27, 30-25, 30-21 victory.

Hoeksma engineered the offense with an astounding 40 assists. Quinn recorded 18 kills and seven digs. DeMais and Raddock rounded out the offense, adding 10 kills apiece. DeMais also put up seven digs, while Raddock contributed six more.

Sophomore defensive setter Laura Golden stepped up with a team-high 14 digs, while Berkley put in 10 of her own. The win was a big confidence booster for the ‘Dogs, who were coming off two consecutive losses, one to Wesleyan on Friday and the other the week before to the team from Pomona and Pitzer Colleges.

Amherst once again gave up a game in a win over Trinity (30-27, 28-30, 30-26, 30-14). Quinn put up an incredible 23 kills and five blocks to almost single-handedly beat the Bantams. DeMais rounded out the offense with 13 kills and nine digs of her own. Berkley put in a solid performance on defense with 12 digs, while Golden added another eight to stop Trinity. Hoeksma put in yet another outstanding effort with 32 assists and four kills.

“Neither match on Saturday came easily for us. We worked hard for the wins and fought until the very end,” said Quinn.

Both Quinn and Hoeksma earned All-Tournament honors. Although Quinn missed much of the Wesleyan match due to injury, she put up a combined 41 kills and 17 blocks in the two games on Saturday.

“Last year at this tournament, we had the same problems,” said Hoeksma, referring to an opening-round loss to Springfield College. “A lot of people have been sick on the team this past week or injured. It’s also the time of year when people have exams and papers.”

This weekend’s results improved the ‘Dogs’ impressive record to 13-2. Because of its loss over the weekend, the team is expecting to have better practices this week and looks forward to four important matches next week.

Amherst travels to Maine to take on Colby, Bates and Bowdoin Colleges at Colby in NESCAC competition. These three games will be important for the team’s seeding in the NESCAC Tournament later in the fall. The three Maine teams are tied for fifth in the league with 1-2 records in NESCAC competition. The ‘Dogs will then travel to Westfield State University the following Tuesday to play a non-league match.