Volleyball Begins Quest for NESCAC Title

Volleyball Begins Quest for NESCAC Title

Looking for its second NESCAC Volleyball Tournament title in the last three years and sixth overall, fourth-seeded Middlebury begins its quest when it squares off with fifth-seeded Tufts on Friday evening at 8:00 p.m. in a quarterfinal match. The two teams played on October 12 in Middlebury, as the Panthers earned a four-set victory (25-15, 25-16, 20-25, 25-20). Semifinal matches will be played on Saturday, November 3 followed by the championship match on Sunday, November 4 hosted by Bowdoin in Morrell Gymnasium.

The first quarterfinal matchup pits No. 4 Middlebury (17-5, 7-3 NESCAC) against No. 5 Tufts (15-9, 6-4 NESCAC). Both teams have appeared in every NESCAC Championship field. The Panthers are the No. 4 seed for the fifth time overall, with the last time being in 2015. Middlebury has won five titles (1997, 1998, 2010, 2012, 2016) and is looking to advance to the semifinals for the third time in four years. The Panthers enter the tournament riding a five-match win streak and rank second in the league in kills per set (13.34).

Tufts, last year's runner-up, has one NESCAC Championship to its credit, winning the title in 1996. The Jumbos are the No. 5 seed for the third time overall and the first time since 2015. Tufts closed out the regular season winning four of its last five matches, as it seeks a trip to the semifinals for the third straight year. The Panthers own a 4-0 advantage in the NESCAC postseason series, including a 3-2 victory over the Jumbos in the last meeting in the 2016 championship game.

Bowdoin (24-1, 10-0 NESCAC) grabbed the No. 1 seed with a tightly contested 3-1 win over Wesleyan during the final weekend of the season. The Polar Bears, who are the top seed for the third time, won both of their NESCAC titles as the No. 1 seed in 2011 and 2015. Bowdoin went unbeaten in the NESCAC for the second time in program history (2011) and is averaging a league-best 13.78 kills per set. The Polar Bears are looking to advance to the semifinals for the eighth consecutive season when they face No. 8 Trinity (13-10, 2-8 NESCAC) in the opening round.

Trinity and Connecticut College finished the regular season with identical 2-8 conference marks. In head-to-head competition, Trinity defeated Connecticut College to earn the No. 8 seed. The Bantams are making their first appearance in the NESCAC Championship since 2014, the last time they were the No. 8 seed. Trinity is seeking its first semifinal appearance since 2011. Bowdoin holds a 2-0 advantage in the NESCAC postseason series, with the last meeting between the two teams taking place in the 2013 quarterfinals. The Polar Bears swept the Bantams, 3-0, at Bowdoin on October 5 during the regular season.

Wesleyan (16-4, 9-1 NESCAC), the defending NESCAC Champion, is the No. 2 seed for the second straight season and fourth time overall. The Cardinals won the program's first NESCAC title last year and are making their third straight championship appearance. Wesleyan has one of the top all-around defenses in the conference, averaging a league-best 19.46 digs per set and ranks second in blocks per set (1.68). The Cardinals will face No. 7 Bates (14-8, 4-6 NESCAC) to open tournament play. Bates is making its fourth straight appearance in the NESCAC Championship and is the No. 7 seed for the second time in three years. The Bobcats are looking for their first NESCAC postseason victory since 2003. Bates closed out the regular season winning five of its last six matches en route to the program's most overall wins (14) since 2009. Bates is 2-1 against Wesleyan in the NESCAC Tournament, but the two squads last met in the 2002 quarterfinals, with the Bobcats recording a 3-2 win. This season, Wesleyan defeated Bates, 3-1, at Wesleyan on October 13.

Amherst (20-4, 8-2 NESCAC) secured the No. 3 seed for the 11th time overall and the first time since 2016 with a victory over Bates during the last weekend of the regular season. The Mammoths, who have appeared in every NESCAC Tournament field since 1999, are looking to advance to the semifinals for the sixth straight season. Amherst has won three NESCAC titles, the last in 2006, and enters the NESCAC Championship with the best hitting percentage in the league (.260). The Mammoths, who won five consecutive matches to end the regular season, will meet No. 6 Williams (12-11, 5-5 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals. The Ephs have also been in every NESCAC Championship since 1999 and have won nine titles, the most of any school. Williams' last NESCAC Championship came in 2014. The Ephs are the No. 6 seed for the second time, the other year being 2010. Williams is seeking a semifinal appearance for the first time since 2015. The Ephs are 8-2 against the Mammoths in NESCAC Championship play. The two teams last met in the 2015 semifinals, with Williams pulling out a 3-2 victory. During the regular season, Amherst posted a 3-1 win over the Ephs at Amherst on October 13.

Results from the NESCAC Volleyball Championship will be posted at NESCAC.com each day.

Quarterfinals - Friday, November 2
Hosted by Bowdoin
No. 8 Trinity at No. 1 Bowdoin – 5:00 p.m.
No. 7 Bates vs. No. 2 Wesleyan – 5:00 p.m.
No. 6 Williams vs. No. 3 Amherst – 8:00 p.m.
No. 5 Amherst vs. No. 4 Hamilton – 8:00 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, November 3
at Bowdoin
1:00 p.m. | 3:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 4
at Bowdoin
Championship Match – 12:00 p.m.

-- Courtesy of the NESCAC --