Wesleyan snapped a six-match losing streak this season by handing visiting Western Connecticut, ranked 11th in the latest NEWVA poll, just its third setback in 14 starts this year, 3-1, in Middletown Wed., Sept. 28. During each set Wesleyan won, the Cardinals trailed early on, but took control in the final stages to win a close result. The Colonials' lone set victory was by a substantial 10-point margin.
In the opening set, Western led by an many as eight, 11-3, before Wesleyan rallied to take a 19-18 lead behind a 16-7 run. With the score tied, 20-20, the Cardinals scored five of the final seven points to take a 25-22 decision. The final point came from setter Laura Yim '13 (#5, main photo), who finished the match with 33 assists and two kills, as she put a first-ball dink out of the reach of the Colonials.
Western again moved to the front in the second set, holding a 5-1 edge, but similar to the first set, Wesleyan scored six of the final eight points after the teams were tied, 19-19. Casey Reed '12 (#6, photo insert upper left), who led the Cardinals with 15 kills, made a tough kill from a sharp angle on the left to make it 24-20, and Kim Farris '14 (#2, main photo), who added 11 kills and four blocks, put the ball down for the final point and a 25-21 Wesleyan triumph.
The third set was all Western after Wesleyan scored the opening two points. A 17-6 Colonial run spotted the visitors a 17-8 margin and Wesleyan got no closer than seven as the 25-15 final score equalled the largest margin of the set.
But the fourth set mimicked the first two initially as Western held an 8-5 advantage, only this time an 11-2 Wesleyan burst gave the homestanders a 16-10 lead, their largest in any set on the night. But the Colonials cut the gap to a single point, the last time at 18-17, before the Cardinals pushed out to a 22-18 lead and finished off another tight win, 25-21, on a Reed kill.
Defensively, Wesleyan got 18 digs from Jeanne McPhee '13 (#4, photo insert lower left) while Monica Leslie '14 had four blocks to match Farris' output.
Wesleyan avenged a 3-1 loss at Western a year ago and upped its lead in the overall series to 24-14.
Up next for Wesleyan is a NESCAC weekend at Hamilton College for a pair of matches, starting with Little Three rival Williams Friday, Sept. 30. Then the Cardinals take on the host Sat., Oct. 1. Against Williams, the Cardinals came out on the short side of a 3-1 decision. The Cardinals led much of the first set and held a 20-16 lead before the Ephs struck for nine of the final 12 points and a 25-23 win. Williams jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the second set and used a 9-0 run after leading 11-9 to generate a 25-13 victory. Wesleyan proved its medal in the third set, rallying from an 11-3 deficit to win, 26-24. Reed, who paced the team with 12 kills, put the squad on the brink of victory with a kill to make it 24-23, but Williams tied it, 24-24. A solid play at the net by Farris, who had 11 kills, and Laura Volgenau '13, accounted the the 25th point, and Jess Shevins '14 put away the winner as she picked up six kills on the night in nine attempts with no errors for a .667 hitting percentage. A 7-0 margin for Williams to open the fourth set proved too much for the Cardinals as the lead grew to 20-7 before the Ephs closed out the match, 25-13. McPhee collected 24 digs and Claire Larson '15, who took over as setter midway through the second set, had 28 assists. Leslie was in on six blocks up front.
(photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)