Ruby Hernandez '11 Now Career Digs Leader While Gale Lackey Gets Win #450 as Volleyball Downs ECSU - Team Makes NESCAC Field but Falls to #1 Seed Amherst
With 78 digs over three matches during the final week of the regular season, all Cardinal victories, Ruby Hernandez '11 (#1, main photo) assumed career leadership in digs at Wesleyan with 1,905, ahead of previous record-holder Tory Molnar '07, who collected 1.887 during her four years. Hernandez now had all three digs records at Wesleyan with the seasonal mark of 580 set last year as well as 43 digs in a match, done vs. Johns Hopkins in 2009.
Breaking the pattern of a home-team victory over the last seven non-tournament meetings between Wesleyan and Eastern Connecticut, Wesleyan mastered the Warriors on the road, 3-1, Wed., Oct. 27, to give 26-year head coach Gale Lackey (photo insert upper left) her 450th career volleyball win. Coming to Wesleyan with 13 wins under her belt at the U. of Bridgeport, Coach Lackey logged her 437th Wesleyan win. The last time the Cardinals beat ECSU on the road was 2002. Since then, the home team has won the last seven gatherings of the squads.
Libero Ruby Hernandez '11 (#1, main photo) joined the 30-club by coming up with 30 digs during the four-set match, an average of 7.5 per set. Dishing out 48 assists, an average of 12.0 per set, setter Laura Yim '13 (#5, photo insert lower left) was on her game. Helping make Yim so successful were Casey Reed '12 and Alissa Santucci '12, as both logged 13 kills on the night. Lesley Falkner '11 chipped in with nine kills. The Cardinals had a great night in the blocking department as Kim Farris '14 was in on eight blocks while Monica Leslie '14 was a part of seven blocks. In total, the Cardinals registered 15 points off blocks, nearly four points a set. Wesleyan came into the match averaging just 1.4 blocks per set.
The Cardinals cruised through the first set with a 25-15 victory. Wesleyan jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never let the Warriors get closer than six points. The second set went to the home squad, 28-26. The Cardinals recovered from a 17-10 deficit to get the game into extra points before ECSU closed it out. Wesleyan repeated its opening-set score in the third, 25-15, by pullling away from a 16-14 count with a 9-1 run. The final set mirrored the second set but in reverse as ECSU came back from a 23-18 shortfall to tie the set, 23-23, before Wesleyan got the final two points to clinch the 3-1 triumph.
The Cardinals had two critical NESCAC matches remaining on their regular-season schedule heading into action Fri., Oct. 29, when Wesleyan faced Bates in a match hosted by Trinity. The second match was Sat., Oct. 30 vs. Colby, also at Trinity. Wesleyan moved closer to locking up a spot in the NESCAC tournament by sneaking past the Bobcats in five sets, 27-25, 17-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-12. Yim added 45 assists, 11 digs and five blocks to her season totals while Reed racked up 17 more kills to extend her team leadership with Faulkner not far behind with 14. Hernandez produced 25 digs and blocks leaders Farris and Leslie had six and five, respectively.
With the top seven spots in the NESCAC tournament locked up after Friday's action, Wesleyan and Bates were battling for the eighth and final spot into Saturday's concluding matches. Wesleyan secured the last position when it downed Colby in five sets, recovering from a 2-0 deficit to win the last three sets (17-25, 17-25, 25-12, 25-16, 15-12), combined with Bates losses to both Trinity and Conn. College. Wesleyan qualified with a 3-7 conference mark. Wesleyan took on top-seed and host Amherst for a third time this year Fri., Nov. 5, in a first-round match. Amherst had captured both previous encounters vs. Wesleyan but the Cardinals made it a tussle this time before falling, 3-1. Wesleyan ended the year with a 10-13 record.
Against Colby, Wesleyan had its usual stalwarts come through as Reed and Faulkner paced the attack with 13 and nine kills, respectively. Farris had five blocks as did Leslie. Hernandez came up with 23 digs while Yim was responsible for 31 assists. Santucci had a well-rounded six kills, 10 digs and three blocks along with two aces.
In the season-ending match at Amherst, the Cardinals and Lord Jeffs were tied either midway or late in sets one, three and four but the host took two of those three as well as set #2 to claim the match and move onto the NESCAC semi-finals. In the opening set, the teams were tied 17-17 before a 5-1 Amherst run made it 22-18. The Cards cut it to 22-20 but Amherst cashed in on three of the last four points for a 25-21 decision. The third set was even at 19-19 but this time it was the Cardinals who finished strong for a 25-22 victory. Reed picked up point #24 with a kill and Farris polished it off with a set-ending kill as Wesleyan led just 23-22 prior. All even at 14-14 in the fourth set, an 8-1 Amherst streak gave the Lord Jeffs a 22-15 edge. Wesleyan tried to close the gap and made it 23-18, but the match ended when Amherst secured the 25-19 win. The second set had gone to Amherst, 25-13, as the host never trailed, pulling away from a 13-9 lead with a 12-4 conclusion.
During the final match of her amazing career, Hernandez just missed another 30-dig outing as she registered 29, upping her career total to 1,934. She averaged 4.96 per set this season and had a .947 receipt percentage. Farris had one of the best matches of her young career with 13 kills and six blocks. She had no hitting errors, giving her a .565 hitting percentage for the match. Reed led the team in kills with 17. It was the 22nd time in 23 matches that Reed at least tied for the team lead as she had double-digit kills in 18 of 23 matches. Her 306 kills (3.69 per set) is more than any two other players on the team combined. Farris ended up the squad leader in blocks with 72. Yim, with 50 assists in the final match, averaged 9.40 per set as a first-year starter.