Looking for its third NESCAC Volleyball Tournament title in seven years, second-seeded Middlebury begins its quest when it squares off with seventh-seeded Bates on Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. in a quarterfinal match. The two teams played last Saturday in Maine, as the Bobcats hung on for a four-set victory (25-11, 25-15, 16-25, 25-17). Semifinal matches will be played on Saturday, November 5 followed by the championship match on Sunday, November 6 hosted by Tufts in Cousens Gymnasium.
Tufts (22-2, 10-0 NESCAC) is hosting the championship for the second time in three years and is the top seed for the fourth time in program history. The Jumbos are seeking their first championship since 1996. Tufts is the first NESCAC team to go unbeaten in league play since Williams went undefeated in 2013. The Jumbos began the season with an 8-0 start and had another 11-match win streak before dropping a non-conference contest to Springfield. Tufts owns one of the best offenses in the league, averaging 12.26 kills per set and also ranks second in blocks at 2.02 per set. The Jumbos will face eighth-seed Connecticut College (11-11, 4-6 NESCAC), which they defeated, 3-0, in the regular season finale. The two teams last met in the postseason in 2013 with the Jumbos winning in five sets. Tufts is 2-1 against the Camels in championship play. Connecticut College is making its 12th straight postseason appearance, but first as the No. 8 seed. The Camels will be looking for their first postseason win since 2012.
Middlebury (15-8, 7-3 NESCAC) is the second seed for the first time since 2013 and is seeking its first appearance in the finals since 2012. Middlebury and Amherst both finished with identical 7-3 records. In head-to-head competition, Middlebury defeated Amherst to earn the No. 2 seed. The Panthers have moved onto the semifinals four times in the last six years including last season. Middlebury is the top blocking team in the league, averaging 2.32 blocks per set. The Panthers will meet seventh-seeded Bates (11-13, 5-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Bobcats are making back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since 2003-04. Middlebury and Bates faced each other in the regular season finale, and the Bobcats came away with a 3-1 victory. Bates owns a 3-0 record against Middlebury in NESCAC Championship play. The teams last met in the postseason during the 2003 quarterfinals, with Bates sweeping the Panthers.
Amherst (16-8, 7-3 NESCAC) is the third seed for the fourth straight season. The Purple & White have moved on to the semifinals every time they have been the third seed, and are looking to advance to the championship match for the first time since 2008. Amherst owns one of the best back lines in the conference, averaging 18.87 digs per set. The Purple & White will face No. 6 Wesleyan (15-7, 6-4 NESCAC), which is in the postseason for the first time since 2010. Bowdoin, Williams and Wesleyan all finished with identical 6-4 records. In head-to-head competition, all teams went 1-1. After comparing set records, Bowdoin went 5-4, Williams went 5-5 and Wesleyan went 4-5 as Bowdoin earned the No. 4 seed and Williams earned the No. 5 seed. Amherst defeated Wesleyan in five sets, 3-2, in the regular season finale to snap the Cardinals' five-match win streak.
Bowdoin (14-9, 6-4 NESCAC), the defending NESCAC Champion, is the fourth seed and will meet No. 5 Williams (13-10, 6-4 NESCAC) in a rematch of last year's championship game. The Polar Bears own the top offense in the league at 13.44 kills per set. They are making their 11th straight postseason appearance and have been in the finals three times in the last five years, twice meeting up with Williams. Bowdoin enters the tournament coming off a pair of sweeps. The 2016 championship marks the first time since 2012 the Ephs have not been one of the top two seeds in the NESCAC Championship. Williams has advanced to the semifinals 14 of the last 15 years and has appeared in three straight championship matches. The Ephs posted a 3-2 win over Bowdoin when the two teams met during the regular season on September 17.
Results for the NESCAC Volleyball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
2016 NESCAC VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Hosted by Tufts
Quarterfinals - Friday, November 4
#8 Connecticut College at #1 Tufts – 5:00 p.m.
#7 Bates vs. #2 Middlebury – 5:00 p.m.
#6 Wesleyan vs. #3 Amherst – 8:00 p.m.
#5 Williams vs. #4 Bowdoin – 8:00 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, November 5
Winner of 1/8 vs. Winner of 4/5 – 1:00 p.m.
Winner of 2/7 vs. Winner of 3/6 – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 6
Championship - 12:00 p.m.
-- Courtesy of the NESCAC --