Following two disappointing losses against Little Three rivals Williams and Amherst last week- end, the volleyball team looked to get back on pace for a NESCAC tournament appearance against conference foe Trinity in Hartford Friday evening. The Cardinals came away disappointed, however, losing to the Bantams in four tight sets and dropping their in-conference record to 0-3. The team is now 7-5 on the season.
The Cardinals came out strong in the opening set, taking control of the net with the score tied at 22 in order to secure a 25-22 triumph. The team’s concentration wavered in the second set, however, and the Bantams were able to take it 25-14 following numerous Cardinal er- rors. The third set started off very tight with steady defense and fero- cious kills from both sides, yet once again Trinity would not be denied, outscoring the Cardinals 10-1 af- ter the score was deadlocked at 12. The Bantams took the set despite a ferocious Cardinal comeback that leveled the score at 22. The drama continued in the fourth set, as strong offensive play from both sides evened out the score once again at 22. A critical kill from Naja Lewis ’17, with the game tied at 23, gave the Cardinals a set point and a chance at forcing a decisive fifth set. Trinity held their ground, however, scoring three consecutive points to claim the set 27-25.
“The loss [against Trinity] on Friday was definitely a tough one, especially considering how strongly we came out in the first set,” said Rachel Savage ’17, who finished the match with 17 digs. “It was pretty heartbreaking to lose that final set the way we did.”
Lewis led the Cardinal attack with nine kills, while Sarah Small ’18 and Tyla Taylor ’18 each added eight. Claire Larson ’15 continued her impressive season with 35 as- sists, and Lewis was responsible for four of the team’s six blocks. Taylor also contributed defensively with 23 digs. Wesleyan has now lost to Trinity for six consecutive seasons; the team’s last victory against the Bantams took place in October 2008.
Despite three consecutive losses to NESCAC opponents, Lewis remains optimistic about the team’s chances of reaching the tournament this season.
“It was definitely a bumpy week- end for the team, but we came out with a win,” Lewis said. “Every match is an opportunity for us to work together and play better. As the season contin- ues, expect greatness to unfold.”
The team certainly showed no lethargy from Friday’s loss when they returned to Hartford the following day to face out-of-conference opponent Husson University. Crisp execution from all areas of the floor and domi- nating play from team’s front three propelled the Cardinals to a speedy straight-set victory over the Eagles.
The Cardinals’ defense shone in the first set, blocking four potential Eagle kills and paving the way to a 25-13 wallop. Husson stepped up their play in the following two sets, but could find no answers against the combined attack of hitters Taylor and Sarah Swenson ’18. The Cardinals took the final two sets 25-18 and 25- 17 respectively.
“The match on Saturday gave us the opportunity to regain our confi- dence, and do plays that we hadn’t gotten the opportunity to run be- fore,” Savage said. “We now know what we need to work on this week in order to come out strong for our Maine trip next weekend.”
Taylor and Swenson carried the Wesleyan offense, combining for 23 of the team’s 37 kills. Larson totaled 23 assists, and Taylor compiled 15 of the squad’s 50 digs. Lewis added two blocks. Saturday marked the first time Cardinals ever faced Husson University.
The team will look to build upon their conference record when they host Saint Joseph this Tuesday evening. They then travel to Maine to face NESCAC opponents Colby and Bowdoin this coming weekend.
Colby stands at seventh in the league at 1-2, while Bowdoin is 2-1 in fourth place. A victory in these Maine matches will prove that the squad has realistic playoff aspirations and will help move the team out of their last-place seeding in the conference.