Last year’s NESCAC Rookie of the Year, sophomore outside hitter Kristin Quinn, was named NESCAC Player of the Week on Oct. 11 for her outstanding play in the trio of wins over Bowdoin, Bates and Colby Colleges, in which she totaled a phenomenal 42 kills and 11 blocks on the Maine trip.
After a close first game, Amherst clobbered Bowdoin with ease Oct. 8 at host Colby (31-29, 30-13, 30-20). The offense was led by senior co-captain and outside hitter Nikki Davidson and her 13 kills. Quinn rounded out the offense by adding 10 kills, while first-year outside hitter Jaclyn DeMais contributed to both the offense and the defense with eight kills and eight digs. Senior co-captain setter Annie Hoeksma posted an impressive 32 assists as well as three kills.
First-year libero Julie Berkley starred for the defense, as she put up 10 digs in addition to two aces. Sophomore defensive setters Mikela Yarawamai and Laura Golden rounded out the defense with seven and five digs, respectively.
The next day, the ‘Dogs went on to crush Bates in three straight games (30-20, 30-12, 30-19). The offense was evenly distributed throughout the team, as Quinn posted nine kills, and Davidson, Berkley and Demais posted eight, seven and six, respectively. Hoeksma’s 30 assists led the offense, while junior outside hitter Kate Raddock’s 12 digs led the defense. Yarawamai, Berkley and DeMais contributed five more digs each to complete the defense for the match.
The ‘Dogs then went on to play their most challenging match of the weekend later that day against host Colby. Colby won the first two games, but Amherst rallied and showed enormous strength and perseverance, winning the next three games and the match (24-30, 22-30, 30-18, 30-27, 15-11).
Quinn led the offense with an astonishing 23 kills, while Davidson posted 10 more, and DeMais and Raddock completed the offensive effort with eight and seven kills, respectively. Hoeksma’s 45 assists were also a tremendous boost to the ‘Dog’s victory.
Berkley led the defense with an impressive 18 digs, while DeMais, Yarawamai and Raddock each added 10 of their own.
“The highlight of the weekend would have to be the match against Colby,” said Hoeksma. “We came back from losing the first two games to win the next three, which showed that we were truly the stronger team.”
The ‘Dogs swept through their next competition, a non-conference match against Westfield State University, on Oct. 12 in a blowout, (30-15, 30-8, 30-18).
Four days later, Amherst faced some tougher competition in a conference match against Tufts. Despite a valiant comeback effort, the ‘Dogs found themselves on the wrong end of a grueling five-gave marathon match, (22-30, 20-30, 30-22, 30-28, 17-15).
Quinn again led on offense with 16 kills, while Davidson put in 12 more, and Raddock and DeMais added 11 apiece. Hoeksma posted an incredible 48 assists, and Berkley and Raddock led the defense with 18 and 14 digs, respectively. The defense was rounded out by 12 digs from Yarawamai and 11 from Davidson.
“It is extremely disappointing that we lost that game, especially since it was so close in the last three games, but I thought we played some of our best volleyball all season,” said Hoeksma.
DeMais added, “The loss to Tufts was disappointing but a reality check. Now we’re more mentally prepared for the NESCAC Tournament.”
The Firedogs bounced back handily the next day, handing a pair of visiting teams three-game losses. Amherst preyed on Western Connecticut State (30-11, 30-25, 30-11) and Aurora Universities (30-23, 30-15, 30-28).
This weekend the ‘Dogs compete in the 16-team Hall of Fame Tournament, hosting play on Friday night for their final home matches of the season. The next day, they play at Smith College. The following weekend marks the conclusion of regular-season league play for Amherst as the Firedogs travel to Middlebury College for their final three matches of the season, all of which are conference matchups.
“These next two weekends are extremely important for NESCACs as well as the chance to get a bid to the NCAAs,” said Hoeksma.