NYU 3, Williams 1

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. --The 9th ranked NYU volleyball team (40-5) defeated 21st-ranked Williams (33-4) to advance to the Division III NCAA Final Four in Rochester, MN. NYU, the national runners-up a year ago, won in a tightly contested match 3-1 (30-26, 25-30, 30-15, 30-24) and will play the top-ranked Juniata College volleyball team (35-3), which defeated 5th-ranked Emory University (31-10) Friday night in three straight games 3-0 (30-21, 30-20, 30-24).

The first game was highlighted by NYUs fantastic blocking ability which created some difficulties for Williams, but the teams were never separated by more than a few points even late in the game. Sophomore Vanessa Biegen led the Violets with an impressive 9 total blocks, 2 solo and 7 block assists. The game was tied at 20, with an electric crowd pushing Williams to make play after play, but NYU battled hard and opened up a small three point lead at 28-25 and went on to take the game.

The momentum quickly swung to Williams in game two, with the Ephs opening up a five point lead early that forced NYU to take a timeout. Williams setter Alexis Knepp did a quick tip to move the score to 11-7 and junior Annie Denison put away a hard kill to extend the lead back to 5 at 13-8. NYU tied the game at 13, but phenomenal play by senior stand out Joyia Chadwick enabled Williams to regain the lead and their momentum. Chadwick, who was absolutely dominant as a blocker, finished with 6 block assists and 2 solo blocks to go with her 11 kills. Late in the match, the points were won off long rallies and the score was tied yet again at 25. A thundering kill by Denison put the Ephs within one point of the win and they went on to win 30-25.

NYU adjusted their plans for game three by switching All-American Elena Drinka to middle blocker to deal with Williams All-American middle blocker Joyia Chadwick. The changes were effective and NYU jumped out to a 7-2 lead that forced Williams to take a time out. NYU led by 13 points late in the game at 13-26, but the Ephs refused to give up and fought hard on every point. A 4-0 run by Williams to make it 15-26 was countered by a nice kill by NYU junior Jennifer Gardikas. Williams would get no closer in game three and fell 30-15.

Decisive game four opened with strong play from Gardikas, who collected 6 kills and led her team with 17 digs in the match. Drinka pounded down one of her team high 19 kills to put the score at 11-5 in favor of NYU. Williams never lost focus and rose to the challenge of battling back in what was shaping up to be their final game of the season. Senior Robin Young almost ran out of the gym to get her hands on a ball her teammate dug up and popped up and Williams went on to take that point and make the score 10-18. The crowd erupted and reignited the Williams squad, who went on a 5-0 run to get back to within one point at 20-21. Williams tied the score at 22, fought hard on long rallies and forced NYU to earn their points. The experienced NYU squad squashed the Ephs rally and won the game and the match by a score of 30-24. Young led Williams with 16 kills and 16 digs, while Denison collected 14 kills and 12 digs. Freshman Jennifer Wylie had 14 digs and 11 kills for NYU.

--Courtesy Williams