As October came to a close, the volleyball team also wrapped up its first season under new Head Coach Ben Somera. As most Wesleyan students headed to Rite-Aid to buy generic Halloween masks, the team prepared for its final weekend, which featured Little Three matches against Williams on Friday and Amherst on Saturday. Both matches took place in the Silloway Gymnasium, and both of Wesleyan’s opponents headed into the match with strong records, both in and outside of NESCAC play.
On Friday, Wesleyan started competitively. In the first set, the Cardinals opened up a 14-11 lead, keyed by numerous Williams errors and three kills by Sarah Swenson ’18. From then on, however, the set was all Ephs. The away outfit quickly turned their three point deficit into a six point lead of 21-15. They did not relinquish, this advantage, and captured the opening set 25-19. Williams then parlayed its momentum into a 5-0 run to begin the second set. While the Cardinals were able to claw their way back partially, they failed to ever take the lead and lost the second set 25-14. In a surprising shift of momentum, the Ephs reverted to their error-laden form of volleyball from the first set and Wesleyan took control of set number-three, 18-12. At this point, Williams regained form and put together an authoritative string of points, ultimately taking the set 25-20, and the match 3-0.
This loss sent Wesleyan to 5-14, and killed any hope it may still have had for qualifying for the NESCAC tournament. Meanwhile, Williams improved to 15-9 with a 7-2 NESCAC record. This win, paired with a victory over Trinity the following day, pushed Williams into the second seed in the NESCAC tournament. Despite the loss, Swenson and Kelsey Tam ’19 performed well. Swenson had eight kills and three blocks, while Tam added 11 assists and three aces.
In the season finale, Wesleyan faced an Amherst squad that had amassed a 20-3 record coming into the match. As early as the first set, it was plain to see how the Lord Jeffs had compiled such a strong record. Wesleyan hitters seemed helpless against the strong Amherst defense, amassing just four kills in the set to Amherst’s 12. This quick set ended with a 10-1 Amherst run for a final score of 25-9. The second set was far more competitive, as Abby Southam ’16 absolutely dominated out of the gate in her final collegiate match. In the first 12 points, Southam recorded four kills and a block to send the Cardinals to a 7-5 lead. After a continued back and forth, the match was tied as late as 17-17. However, the Lord Jeffs were able to break away and take the set 25-20. The final set was more or less controlled by Amherst as well, and ended at 25-12 to clinch a 3-0 Amherst victory.
This loss ended the Cardinals’ season at 5-15, with just a lone NESCAC win over Trinity compared to nine losses. Amherst, meanwhile, advances to the NESCAC tournament where it will be the three seed, taking on sixth-seeded Connecticut College in the first round. Other matchups include first-seeded Bowdoin against eighth-seeded Bates, second-seeded Williams against seventh-seeded Colby, and fourth-seeded Middlebury against fifth-seeded Tufts.
In her final match, Southam ended with a respectable statline of five kills, five digs, and a block. Madeleine Lundberg ’19 had five kills, seven digs, and three blocks, while Emma Robin ’19 added three kills and four blocks.
With the offseason now in full swing, the team is already gearing up for next season both mentally and physically.
“We started our offseason workouts, and we are working hard so we can have an exciting season next year,” Robin said.
Last week, The Argus sat down with Somera who spoke about his expectations for next season. He was excited about a new sense of competitiveness for next year, catalyzed by the presence of a large class of first-years. Robin echoed these sentiments.
“We know the freshman class will be really big,” she said. “We are all going to have to work hard for our spots.”
Though this season may have come as a bit of a disappointment in terms of wins and losses, the team seems to be in agreement that adjusting to the new coaching will be a multiple-year process. Somera, as well as the players, exuded excitement for the future of Wesleyan volleyball. With a large group of new players and more time to institute Somera’s system, expectations are undoubtedly high for 2016.