In a first-ever meeting of non-conference rivals Wesleyan and Southern Vermont, Wesleyan came away with a 3-1 win Fri., Oct. 19 to improve to 7-12 on the year with its third win in a row. Southern Vermont, which started the year 17-1, has now dropped two straight matches, both to NESCAC teams by a 3-1 count, to stand at 17-3.
Wesleyan pulled out to a 16-11 edge in the opening set, and extended the margin to as many as eight, 21-13. The Mountaineers got as close as three at 24-21 before the Cardinals closed it out on a kill by Kim Farris '14. Farris led the Cardinals with 12 kills on the night. Wesleyan again pulled ahead in the second set, leading 12-8, and by as many as five, 20-15, but again Southern Vermont narrowed the gap, closing to 24-22, before another Farris kill put Wesleyan up, 2-0, with the 25-22 victory.
The third set was all Mountaineers as they moved out to a quick 5-2 lead, and never trailed in gaining a 19-13 edge. Southern Vermont finished on a 6-2 run to wrap up the 25-15 decision. The fourth set saw Wesleyan recover from a 10-5 deficit with a 7-1 run to grab a 12-11 lead. Abby Southam '16 (#12, photo insert lower right) broke a 13-13 tie with a kill, giving Wesleyan the lead for good. It started a 6-1 run that spotted the home squad a 19-14 lead. A 7-3 run by the visitors cut the difference to 22-21. Wesleyan then scored the final three points on an attack error and a pair of blocks, with Southam and Farris both involved in the blocks.
Blocks favored the Cardinals by a 10-4 margin, led by Southam with seven assists and Laura Volgenau '13 (#11, photo insert upper right) with one solo and five assists. Monica Leslie '14 (#7, main photo) chipped in with nine kills for Wesleyan. Brenna Tharnstrom '16 picked up 32 assists for the Cardinals. Tops for the Cardinals in the digs department was Sofia Davila '16 with 13.
Wesleyan was right back on the court Sat., Oct. 20 with a pair of non-conference matches, taking on Western New England and WPI in a tri-match. Wesleyan won the opener vs. WNE before falling, 3-1. The match vs. WPI came down to the wire with the Cardinals taking a 15-12 win in the fifth and deciding set.
Leslie was integral in the WPI win with a match-high 18 kills. Wesleyan jumped ahead in the fifth set, 4-0, and led 7-2 before an 8-1 WPI run put the Engineers up 10-8. Wesleyan responded with six consecutive points, including a go-ahead kill by Leslie at 11-10. WPI climbed within two at 14-12 before another Leslie kill put the final touch on the Wesleyan win. Farris and Kate Centofanti '14 both chipped in with 13 kills apiece and Claire Larson '15 racked up 53 assists. Davila was good for 18 digs. The Cardinals won the first and third sets, 29-27 and 25-21, while WPI took sets two (25-22) and four (26-24) in the very closely contested match.
Wesleyan won the final four points in the first set vs. WNE to erase a 24-22 deficit, but the Golden Bears rolled thorugh the next three sets, 25-14, 25-9 and 25-14. Leslie had more kills than the next two Cardinals combined with 13.
Wesleyan had its final non-conference match on Wed., Oct. 24 at Eastern Conn., a squad the Cardinals defeated, 3-0, on the opening weekend of the season during the Trinity Invitational. Wesleyan wasn't able to conquer the Warriors on their home court as ECSU took a 3-1 win (25-23, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21). The teams were separated by only three points over the five sets. Farris paced Wesleyan on offense with 16 kills while Leslie was right behind with 14 and a .414 hitting percentage. Tharnstrom handled the setting and amased 31 assists along with nine digs. Kate Centofanti '14 led Wesleyan in digs with 11. Eastern eked out the victory by excelling on defense with 71 digs to the Cardinals' 49. Wesleyan generated 30 additional attacks but hit at a .253 rate as a team while the Warriors were more proficient with a .350 hitting percentage.
Wesleyan closes out the regular season Sat., Oct. 27 by hosting Hamilton in the final NESCAC match of the year. The Cardinals still have a shot at a playoff spot with a win provided Bates gets a win against either Trinity or Amherst while Colby loses to both the Bantams and Lord Jeffs.