We entered the NESCAC Tournament with hopes of being the first 6th seed team to win a Championship, and in the first two sets against Bowdoin Friday night, we looked like we just might be primed to do it. We'd had a disappointing final weekend where we lost to both Hamilton and Williams in 5 sets, but after a good week of practice, we were ready for NESCAC Championship action!
We started strongly, going up by as many as 6 at 17-11, but a late surge by Bowdoin reminded us that no one would lay down at tournament time as they narrowed the lead to 3 at 23-20, but we traded points to close out the set 25-22. The second set was more of the same, with us leading by a few points, up 6 again with a 17-11 lead again mid way through the set, but we maintained a 3-4 point lead right up to the finish for a second set win of 25-18.
The third set started out somewhat the same, trading points and small runs for an 8-8 tie before a surge by Bowdoin put them up 17-11 this time. Their lead grew to 13-24 before we mounted a final push, scoring five straight points, but eventually fell 18-25. We thought the late surge by us would give us some momentum heading into the 4th set, still leading 2-1 in sets for the match. The fourth set would be one of strings of points by both teams. We went up early 5-1, then they came back to go up 11-7. We were back and forth pretty much the whole time after that, with multiple ties and then small surges by both teams. Tied at 21-21, we scored three straight points to go up 24-21. Despite sitting on three match points, we couldn't convert them for the win. We traded points one more time for a 25-25 tie, before their right side scored the final two points to force a 5th and deciding set.
The fifth set was a battle, but three separate 3 point strings by Bowdoin seemed to put the match out of reach for us. Tied at 3-3, they scored 3 straight to go up 6-3, and again to go up 9-4, and finally when we trailed 10-12, they scored the final three to take the match. It was a disappointing loss for sure, and this one will hurt for a while, I'm afraid. For the seniors, it's not the way any of us wanted their careers to end, but we kept fighting to the end. For the rest of us, we'll try to learn from this as we always do, and move forward for next year.
For our four seniors, they've given so much to our Program over their careers. They've been NESCAC Champs and regionally ranked almost every year. They were 64-27 for their careers, and ALL four were selected for the Senior Classic by the New England Volleyball Coaches. (We'll do a separate blog entry for that, but that's a very nice honor.) It's a tribute to them as players and to the Program and speaks volumes about what those seniors contributed over their careers to have all been honored! Congrats Becca, Emily, Alice and Eliana!! We will certainly miss you four next year!!