Middlebury will make a run at the NESCAC Volleyball title this weekend as Amherst hosts the NESCAC Volleyball Championship. The three-day, eight-team event begins on Friday, Nov. 2 in Amherst, Mass. with quarterfinal action beginning at 6:00 p.m. The 2007 NESCAC Volleyball Championship continues with the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 3 and concludes with the championship match on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Amherst (25-3, 9-1 NESCAC) finished the regular season tied atop the NESCAC standings with Williams, however the Jeffs earned the tie-breaker thanks to a come-from-behind 3-2 decision over the Ephs on Oct. 16. Amherst secured its third NESCAC crown last November and first since back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000 with a 3-0 victory over Trinity in the quarterfinals, a 3-2 win against Wesleyan in the semifinals, and a 3-1 decision over host Williams in the championship match. The Jeffs lone conference loss this season came to Connecticut College on Oct. 13 in Amherst, a 3-2 win for the Camels. Amherst, which wrapped up the regular season this past weekend with back-to-back 3-0 wins over Colby and Bates, will take on eighth-seeded Bowdoin (17-14, 3-7 NESCAC) in the first championship meeting between the two teams since 1999. Bowdoin enters the championship, the fourth tournament appearance in the last five years, having split its final two conference matches, falling to Tufts 3-0 on Oct. 26 before closing out the regular season with a 3-0 win over Bates on Oct. 28. In the lone meeting between the Jeffs and Polar Bears this season on Oct. 7, Amherst came away with a marathon 3-2 victory at Bowdoin. Amherst is 8-2 this season against the tournament field, while Bowdoin is 0-7.
Second-seeded Williams (24-7, 9-1 NESCAC) will face a familiar foe in the quarterfinal round when the Ephs square off against seventh-seeded Middlebury (15-13, 5-5 NESCAC) in the other 6:00 p.m. match on Friday. The two squads faced off last Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Williamstown, Mass. with the Ephs taking a hard-fought 3-1 win over the Panthers. Both teams finished the regular season with conference matches at Connecticut College last weekend, as Williams earned 3-0 wins over Wesleyan, Connecticut College and Trinity, while Middlebury dropped three straight matches, 3-2 to Connecticut College and Trinity and 3-0 to Wesleyan. The Ephs have advanced to the semifinals in each of the last six tournaments, winning four consecutive NESCAC titles from 2001-04, and last faced the Panthers in the playoffs in the 2004 semifinals. Williams is 7-1 against the championship field, while Middlebury is 2-6.
Third-seeded Tufts (18-12, 7-3 NESCAC) heads into this year's championship as one of the hottest teams in the NESCAC, as the Jumbos have won their last six conference matches and posted a 10-1 overall record in their last 11 outings. This weekend, Tufts will look to rebound from a disappointing 2006 championship performance after the Jumbos failed to reach the championship match for the first time in three years, falling to Connecticut College in the quarterfinals 3-2. The Jumbos finished tied with the Camels in the NESCAC standings, however a 3-0 win by Tufts on Oct. 16 gave it the head-to-head advantage and the right to face sixth-seeded Trinity (19-9, 5-5 NESCAC) on Friday. Trinity claimed the sixth seed in this year's tournament by battling past Middlebury 3-2 in the season finale for both teams last Saturday afternoon. The only meeting between Tufts and Trinity went to the Jumbos on Oct. 12, 3-0. Against the other tournament teams this season, Tufts is 4-3 while Trinity is 3-6.
The final quarterfinal match on Friday pits intrastate rivals Connecticut College (19-7, 7-3 NESCAC) and Wesleyan (17-7, 6-4 NESCAC). The Camels, making their third-consecutive championship appearance, earned the fourth seed in this year's tournament after posting the highest finish in the NESCAC standings for the program this decade. Both squads advanced to the semifinals during last year's tournament but failed to make it to the championship match, as Wesleyan is the only team of the two to last appear in the final, coming in 2001. The two teams split their two meetings this season, with Wesleyan taking the first match 3-2 on Sept. 22 during the MIT Invitational before Connecticut College won the conference contest 3-2 on Oct. 3. The Camels are an even 4-4 against the tournament field, while the Cardinals are 6-5
2007 NESCAC VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Friday, November 2 at Amherst
No. 8 Bowdoin at No. 1 Amherst - 6:00 p.m.
No. 7 Middlebury vs. No. 2 Williams - 6:00 p.m.
No. 6 Trinity vs. No. 3 Tufts - 8:00 p.m.
No. 5 Wesleyan vs. No. 4 Connecticut College - 8:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, November 3 at Amherst
Winner No. 1/No. 8 vs. Winner No. 4/No. 5 - 1:00 p.m.
Winner No. 2/No. 7 vs. Winner No. 3/No. 6 - 3:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, November 4 at Amherst
Semifinal winners - 1:00 p.m.