Volleyball takes charge at WNEC Invitational

Tuesday’s shut-out match against Mount Holyoke was an easy 3-0 victory for the Firedogs, with game scores of 30-10, 30-14 and 30-24. Senior co-captain Lauren Wong led the offense with nine kills while first-year Megan Ingraham added eight.

A talented Smith team played a strong match before finally succumbing after four games (30-25, 24-30, 30-18, 30-24). Critical to Thursday’s victory was an intensity that had been lacking in past matches. “We played aggressively and were very consistent in both our hitting and digging,” said Wong.

This consistency allowed setter Annie Hoeksma ’05 to dish out sets to a variety of her teammates en route to a total of 48 assists. Offensive leaders included Nikki Davidson ’05 with 17 kills, Kristin Quinn ’07 with 13 and Wong with 10. Eight members of the team contributed to a total of 62 kills in the match.

Defensively, the Firedogs were paced by Kate Raddock ’06, who dug up 17 of the Pioneers’ attack attempts while playing the libero position. Mikela Yarawamai ’07 added eight digs. An impressive showing at the net also helped to halt the hard-hitting Smith team. Wong, Quinn, Ingraham and Sara Bruggeman ’06 combined for a total of 13 blocks in the match.

This past weekend, Amherst put together four wins to come away as the WNEC Invitational Champions. Friday evening the team took on Massachusetts and Pine Manor Colleges, posting 3-0 wins in both matches. Bruggeman led the team with 14 kills and 12 blocks on the day.

On Saturday, both Plymouth State University and Westfield State College fell victim to Amherst’s superior play, (3-1 and 3-0, respectively). Hoeksma was named tournament MVP and was joined by Quinn on the all-tournament team.

This week promises to be more challenging for the squad. On Wednesday they take on Keene State University in their last non-league match before their first NESCAC weekend at Williams College.

While Middlebury and Hamilton Colleges will also be present at the meet, the Firedogs are gearing up for a much-anticipated showdown against Williams. Williams’ offense, led by junior Joyia Chadwick, has proven powerful in the last few matchups between the rivals. However, this year’s team is very different from years past. An impressive class of freshmen has made a mark on the Firedogs’ playing style.

Co-captains Jessica Allen ’04 and Wong remain optimistic about this weekend’s contest. “If we can manage an effective defense against [Chadwick] the rest will fall into place,” said Allen. “We have the talent to do that this year.”

Wong agreed that defense will be an important aspect against the Ephs. “We will need to have a strong block, and we’ll also rely on the backcourt for consistent passes to get our offense going,” she said.