Following an exciting three-win home stand this past weekend, the volleyball team looked to improve upon an impressive 5-1 record with their match against Eastern Connecticut State University last evening. Down two sets to none, the Cardinals refused to give up, shocking the Warriors with a ferocious come-from-behind victory that puts the current team on pace with the 2007 squad for the best start to a season in school history.
“We are really excited we were able to pull through and get the win after the two-set deficit,” said setter and captain Claire Larson ’15. “This is the first time I have ever won after being down the first two sets. I am very proud of how we pulled together as a team and stayed mentally tough to come out victorious.”
Jen Farris ’16 shares her teammate’s enthusiasm.
“The game against Eastern showed our team’s mental toughness and will to win,” Farris said. “It was a really great win and a great way to start out our first NESCAC weekend.”
After losing the first two sets 25-18, the Cardinals faced a critical point tied at 15 in the third set. Two consecutive kills from Tyla Taylor ’18 propelled the team to a 25-18 victory. Down 12-8 in a dramatic fourth set, the Cardinals’ serves came alive, leading to nine straight points and a 25-19 win and a fifth, decisive set. The final set was no less dramatic as ESCU jumped to a quick 4-0 lead behind powerful serves from its backcourt. A well-placed timeout from Head Coach Gale Lackey allowed the team to regain its composure, and the Cardinals took the next seven points to lead 7-4 just before the two teams switched sides. The Warriors managed to tie the game at 12 before Sarah Small ’18 gave the Cardinals the lead for good with a decisive kill to make it 13-12. Following an ECSU error, Larson finished the match with a spectacular block, tallying the final score at 15-12.
“It was a great victory,” said libero Rachel Savage ’17. “The fact that we came back to win the match in five after losing the first two sets really speaks to the mental toughness of the team, and our relentlessness. It puts us in a great position going into this big weekend with matches against NESCAC rivals.”
Savage also revealed that the historic rivalry between the volleyball programs of Wesleyan and ECSU made this victory all the sweeter.
“Eastern Connecticut is where our assistant coach [Nicki Gasch] is from, so it was nice to win on their home court,” Savage said. “Wesleyan has had a big rivalry with Eastern and Western Connecticut for decades, so it was nice to be part of some of that history.”
Larson led the Wesleyan charge with 50 assists and 12 digs, while Savage added 18 digs. Taylor also compiled 18 digs. Sarah Swenson ’18 was first in the kills department with 17, and Naja Lewis ’17 and outside hitter Abby Southam ’16 combined for 11 blocks.
Southam addressed the win over rival ECSU and her hopes for the upcoming weekend in the following manner.
“Last night was a big win for us as ECSU has been a longtime in-state rival,” Southam said. “We started off a little slow but gained a lot of momentum in the third set by putting balls away and keeping our block strong. The whole team played so hard and with so much heart. This is exactly how we want to go into the Little Three weekend.”
Wesleyan will face their first NESCAC opponents this coming weekend, with matches against Little Three foes Williams and Amherst on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The team will look to avenge losses to both teams from the previous season in order to stay on track for a NESCAC tournament appearance this coming November.