Williams College volleyball aims for conference success
WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Chandler Athletic Center's main gymnasium has purple and gold banners hanging from three walls.
Most of them belong to the Williams College basketball teams, winter-time residents of Chandler. The Williams College volleyball team would like to add some more purple and gold of its own to the wall.
"I, 100 percent, think so," said sophomore setter Ryan Farley. "Every day that we've been here, I've looked up and said ‘I want one of those.' That's the legacy we want to leave."
Williams started its season with a 3-1 record and then rattled off 12 consecutive match victories, before losing to SUNY-New Paltz 3-2 on Wednesday. In that time, the Ephs have lost only five games during that 12-match winning streak.
"The difference this year, is we have all come together and really made it about each other," said Farley, a sophomore, who shared NESCAC player-of-the-week honors with Middlebury's Megan Jarchow. "There's no one playing individually on the team. It's like everyone is together as one.
"We want to win for each other. We want to win for Williams and that's what's made it so much fun this year."
Going into the weekend, Williams is ranked 23rd in the most recent NCAA Division III rankings, and along with No. 24 Roger Williams, the only New England schools in the Top 25. Williams broke into the Top 25 the previous week.
The Ephs are seeking their first NESCAC title and first NCAA Division III tournament appearance since 2009.
Williams is also halfway to its first outright Little Three championship since 2006. On Sept. 26, Williams beat Amherst 3-1 in Chandler. The Ephs will try to claim the Little Three at Wesleyan on Nov. 2.
There are 13 players on Ephs coach Christi Kelsey's roster, and five of them come from southern California. Of the Williams 13, eight are freshmen or sophomores. That the young players are such key cogs in the machine pleases the coach.
"Tori stands out in the stat categories, but all four of our first years have contributed so far," said the Williams coach. "I'm not surprised. When they come right in and are able to contribute and make strides is a great thing."
One might think that because all five are from in and around Los Angeles, they might know each other. In Jasuta's case, she didn't know the other Californians until she arrived here.
"I knew Ryan from a college camp a couple of years ago, before I started college. I knew Emily O'Day, just because I knew the name and she lived in a town somewhat near me," said Jasuta, who grew up in Manhattan Beach. "But I didn't know anyone else."
Senior Emily Doll is from Villa Park, and O'Day is from Los Angeles, while Katherine Lane and Farley both grew up in La Jolla. Farley was familiar with Lane.
"Katherine Lane and I went to high school right down the street from each other, so we've played against each other our whole lives," said Farley, "in softball, volleyball, everything."
Farley is tops in NESCAC with 10.71 assists per set, and is 10th in the country.
"I'm very surprised how easy it's been for me to connect" with the hitters, said Farley. "I think it helps that we all have such a good connection off the court. On the court, we have this relationship where if I set it up, the hitter will hit it and make me look good."
Jasuta is second in NESCAC with 4.04 kills per set and third with 222 kills. Junior Rasa Rasmussen leads the nation with a .456 hitting percentage.
"We spend a lot of time evaluating them before we actually ask them to be a part of our program," said Kelsey. "Tori comes from a very high level of volleyball, both in terms of the high school she played for -- it was the No. 1 school in the state in her division and she was a state champion -- but she also played for a tremendous club team."
Jasuta said the success she and the Ephs have had was unexpected.
"It's been unreal because we've been so successful," said Jasuta. "I'm coming in here as a freshman and didn't know what to expect. Seeing the team chemistry and seeing them play for each other, it's been easy to jump in."