WILLIAMSTOWN -- By winning the NESCAC volleyball championship over the weekend, not only does Williams College get a new banner to hang in Chandler Gymnasium, but the Ephs also get to play one more weekend of matches on their home floor.
That's because the Ephs earned the right to host the first rounds of the NCAA Division III tournament this weekend. Seven teams from around the Northeast will descend on Chandler to play volleyball beginning Friday afternoon.
"We're unbelievably humbled to host," Williams coach Christi Kelsey said Monday night. "It's going to be a great opportunity to have those teams on our campus, and to have our Williams community here. It's a tremendous thing."
The tournament begins at 12:30 p.m., when Roger Williams plays St. Joseph's of Long Island. UMass-Boston and Wellesley follow at 3, with Springfield and Baruch playing at 5. The day ends with Williams facing Southern Vermont at 8.
The two winners of the first-round matches from the day session will play Saturday at 2:30 p.m., with the winners of the night session going at 5. The championship of the Williamstown Regional will be played Sunday at 3 p.m. The champion will go to Hope College in Holland, Mich., next weekend for the right to play for a Division III championship.
Williams was the top seed in NESCAC and beat No. 2 Bowdoin 25-16, 25-15, 25-19 in the tournament championship.
"It's hard to put into words," said Kelsey, when asked about winning a title and hosting. "It's a testament to this group's hard work, all the way from preseason until now. It's been a great journey. We're still hoping for more."
The volleyball is one of the highlights of what is going to be an extremely busy weekend on the Williams campus.
Both Williams soccer teams will be hosting first and second-round NCAA Division III tournament games on Cole Field.
The women's tournament doubleheader has matchups and times on Saturday, while the men's times will be determined this morning.
Williams will host Lesley on Saturday at 11 a.m., while Keene State will play Haverford at 1:30 p.m. The winners play Sunday at noon.
In the men's field, Williams will play Elms College while Western New England will face MIT.
Oh, and the schedule doesn't take into consideration the regular-season openers for the Williams men's and women's basketball teams.
The Williams men are scheduled to open their season Friday night against Southern Vermont and Saturday afternoon against Salem State. The Williams women are supposed to open their season against Babson on Saturday night and Plattsburgh State on Sunday afternoon.
Those games are all scheduled to be played in Chandler, so something may have to give regarding times.
Of the seven volleyball teams coming here this weekend, only Wellesley is not a conference champion. Wellesley did, however, drop a 3-2 decision to Springfield in the NEWMAC championship. Springfield is also the only team in this field that has beaten Williams. The Pride beat the Ephs 3-2 last month in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Tournament at Smith College.
Southern Vermont, the NECC champion for the third consecutive year, lost to Williams last month 3-0.
Roger Williams won the CCC title, while St. Joseph's won the Skyline Conference crown and UMass-Boston earned its third straight Little East title.
Kelsey and her players understand the challenge ahead of them, but right now, their focus is on the Mountaineers from Bennington.
"That's going to be the one we focus on. The other teams, we're all very familiar with," she said. "For us, we're focusing on what we do. It's been about a process to get better."
Another Western Massachusetts volleyball team is making another NCAA appearance. MASCAC champion Westfield State, led by conference player of the year Julia Warner of Lee, will travel to Clarkson for a first-round match on Friday.
Westfield earned its automatic bid to the tournament by beating Framingham State 3-0 in the MASCAC tourney final.
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.