Class of 2007
Photo by Sam Masinter '04
Senior co-captain Kristin Quinn helped seal the win for Amherst.

Jeffs Advance to NESCAC Final With 3-2 Win

November 4, 2006

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Amherst women’s volleyball team went to battle against Wesleyan University in the semifinal round of the NESCAC Championships on Saturday afternoon at Williams College. The Jeffs finally pulled out a skin-of-their-teeth, five-game win in just under three hours, 30-22, 25-30, 30-28, 23-30, 15-12.

Amherst won the first game, but it wasn’t easy – the Jeffs and Cardinals traded points until Amherst finally opened up a 20-14 lead. The Jeffs ended the game with four unanswered points. The two teams matched each other through the second game, also – a long rally left Wesleyan up 1-3, and left both teams flustered. By the time Amherst caught its breath, the Cardinals had gone on a five point run, and led 1-8. The two teams went back and forth from there – Amherst drew within two points, but never led.

Wesleyan came out firing in the third game, but Amherst tied the game at 5-5, and pulled ahead on an overpowering ace from junior hitter Jaclyn DeMais (Hillsdale, NJ) ace. Wesleyan came right back on a soft kill though, knotting the score at six. Amherst took the lead again, though, when junior hitter Whitney Kouvaris (Jacksonville, FL) pounded the ball over the net twice in a row to move the score to 9-6. Kouvaris took over again, and tipped the ball over the net to move the Jeffs to a comfortable 12-8. But, the momentum shifted again: Wesleyan tied the game at 17 on a monstrous smash that pinballed off DeMais, and took the lead on the next point. The score stayed close the rest of the way, and a junior defensive specialist Julie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) ace knotted it at 27. Amherst took the lead at 28-27 on a Cardinal miscue, but Berkley plowed her next serve into the net to tie it again. Finally, senior co-captain hitter Kristin Quinn (Pacific Palisades, CA) smashed a ball into the Cardinal floor to take a 29-28 lead, and Kouvaris sealed the deal with a rocket into the Wesleyan backcourt.

The Cardinals took control early in the fourth game – they moved to 1-4 before a Kouvaris liner stopped the bleeding. Amherst and Wesleyan scrummed to 4-4 and 8-8 ties, before Wesleyan went on a tear and distanced itself to 11-18. Wesleyan’s Lisa Drennan pounded a kill for 13-21, and then Anna Williams bruised Amherst with two straight service aces for 13-23. Amherst tried to mount a comeback: it moved within five points at 23-28, but couldn’t silence the Cardinal attack.

Amherst pulled out the decisive fifth game, but Wesleyan gave it a run for its money. The Cardinals hung with Amherst at 4-4, before Wesleyan’s Drennan ended a long rally with a miscue, giving the Jeffs a lead they’d never relinquish. Amherst fired off three more unanswered points, all the buffer it would need.

Sophomore setter Sara Heller (La Canada, CA) had a lot to say: she put up 44 assists, and notched 14 digs and four kills. Berkely and first-year defensive specialist Bethany Belisle (Austin, TX) each came up with 12 digs. The DeMais-Kouvaris-Quinn triumvirate, meanwhile, put up huge numbers: DeMais led the way with 23 kills, three service aces, and one block; Quinn tallied 12 kills; and Kouvaris made noise with 10.

Amherst will meet first-seeded and host Williams College Sunday at 1:00 p.m. for the conference championship.