Sophomore Erin Donahue's (Palos Verdes Estates, CA) 16 kills, and six digs leads the Hamilton College Women's Volleyball team back from a two set deficit to defeat Wesleyan University, 3-2, in NESCAC action Friday evening at Silloway Gymnasium. With the win, the Continentals earn their first NESCAC victory, and improve to 3-9, and 1-2 in conference play this season. The Cardinals drop to 4-6 overall and 1-3 in the NESCAC.
After trailing 3-0 in the first set, Wesleyan stormed back on a 10-2 run, with freshman setter Kelsey Tam (Basking Ridge, NJ) at the service line for five straight points, making the score 10-5 in favor of the home team. Hamilton would battle back and take a 14-13 lead with an 8 to 4 run of their own, but the Cardinals rattled off 12 of the next 14 points to take the first set 25-18. Tam finished the set with one of her two service aces in the match.
The second set was back and forth through the first 10 points. The two NESCAC foes traded points until the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead on a freshman Emma Robin (Longmeadow, MA) ace. Wesleyan would then build a 11-7 lead after junior libero Rachel Savage (Portland, OR) added another ace to the Cardinals tally. The lead then ballooned to 15-8, 18-10 and was finished off on a 7-3 run to give Wesleyan the set 25-13, and a commanding 2-0 set lead.
Hamilton then turned it to another level by jumping out to a 10-6 lead in the third set. Wesleyan then bounced back to take the next two points, but the Continentals offense began to gel and they went on an 8-2 run. With the score 18-12, Wesleyan dug in a took three straight points to make the score 18-15, but the Continentals staved off a late comeback and took the set 25-23.
Wesleyan had one more shot at avoiding the fifth set, and jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth. But after a Hamilton timeout, the Continentals took nine of the next 13 points to take a 10-9 lead. The visitors wouldn't look back, even with the Cardinals hanging tight, and used the momentum to finish the set on a 15-13 run to take set number four 25-22.
In the fifth and deciding set, Hamilton used the momentum from the previous two sets and took a 4-0 lead, forcing a Wesleyan timeout. The stoppage wasn't enough, and the Continental upped their lead to 7-1, making Wesleyan head coach Ben Somera use another timeout. The Cardinals fought back, and got within three, 10-7, but Hamilton closed the door with a 5-0 run and took the final set 15-7, completing the comeback after being down two sets to zero.
Junior Jessica Weston (Spring Valley, OH) added 10 kills to the Hamilton attack, while freshman Sophie Zacharakis (Bedford, MA) had nine kills, four service aces and five digs. The Continentals had a balanced offensive passing with freshman Meghan Wilkinson (Raleigh, NC) having 22 assists and sophomore Kyndal Burdin (Boynton Beach, FL) chipping in 19.
The Cardinals were led by the two-headed attack of sophomore Sarah Swenson (Woodstock, CT), and freshman Madeleine Lundberg (West Newton, MA). Swenson paced Wesleyan with 19 kills, and Lundberg tallied 15. Savage played tenacious defense, and led all players with 30 digs. And, junior setter Heidi Westerman (Soldotna, AK) assisted on 27 kills, while Tam had 23 helpers.
Both teams continue NESCAC action on Saturday October 3rd, with Wesleyan hosting the Middlebury College Panthers, and Hamilton traveling to Trinity.