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NCAA Tournament: 1994, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
NCAA Elite 8: 2002, 2003, 2004; NCAA Sweet 16: 1998, 2001
NESCAC Champions: 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004; NESCAC Runner-up: 1996, 1997, 1998
ECAC Tournament: 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000; ECAC Champions: 1996
Little 3 Champions: 1986, '89, '90, '95, '96, '97, '98, 2001, '02, '03, '04
2006 Season Outlook
Eph head coach Fran Vandermeer will enter her seventh season at Williams welcoming eight players back from last season's 18-13 team that finished tied for third in the NESCAC.
The 2006 Ephs will be smaller than they were last fall with the graduation of two six-footers in two-time AVCA Honorable Mention All-American Annie Denison and four-year letter winner Kate Sauerhoff up front. "We won’t have as much size at the net, but we should be much more athletic defensively this season," noted Vandermeer. "We’ll have a more varied offensive look and I expect our overall intensity to be raised by more competitive practice opportunities. We are extremely motivated to begin the season."
Vandermeer points to her senior captains Alexis Knepp and Krista Suojanen as outstanding team leaders and role models. "All four of our seniors are committed to the team’s success, but it's special when your two captains are your hardest workers," said Vandermeer. "Krista and Alexis come to practice every day and set the tone in the gym -- both in their effort and their enthusiasm. There is no doubt that they will inspire their teammates this season."
Knepp, a two-time AVCA Honorable Mention All-American setter and a first team All-NESCAC selection in 2005, will again be the focal point of the fast paced offense the Ephs like to run. "Alexis is a phenomenal setter and she is very athletic," said Vandermeer. “Her calm demeanor on the court is a consistent source of strength for her teammates. She’ll be the glue of our team.” Knepp played in all 114 games last year and averaged 10.81 assists per game.
Suojanen, an outside hitter, led the Ephs in digs last season with 4.11 a game and was second on the team in kills (2.99). She also served 45 aces and played in every game. "Krista works as hard as any player I’ve ever coached,” says Vandermeer. “She is the player who comes out of each timeout determined to make something positive happen for our team.”
Two other seasoned seniors who will be counted on to lead this young Eph team are middle blocker Eli Bond and defensive specialist Katie Cail. Bond recorded a team best 59 aces and accumulated 30 blocks while appearing in 114 contests. Cail played in 96 games for the Ephs and averaged 2.18 digs while steadying the backline. "These four seniors know what this program is all about and will be counted on to play a key role in helping our team to achieve our goals," said Vandermeer. >
Two juniors who will be called on for contributions this season are Darcy Montevaldo and Liz Hirschhorn. Both played in over 80 games last season with Montevaldo appearing in 89 and Hirschhorn in 81.
Sophomore outside hitter Riki McDermott played in 110 games last fall and was second on the Ephs in digs with 3.17 and averaged 1.91 kills. Sophomore Molly Hunter returns after battling injuries for most of her first season.
A quintet of first year players dot the Eph roster and Vandermeer is high on the Class of 2010. "This group will impact our team early and they are going to see significant court time," said Vandermeer. "This is a talented and highly energized class and we're excited to see what they can do." The first years are: Whitney Hitchcock, a 5-11 middle blocker from Rochester, NY, Alisha Cahlan, a 5-9 opposite from Las Vegas, NV, Andrea Scioscia, a 5-4 defensive specialist from Gibsonia, PA and two outside hitters from California, 5-10 Chelsea Kubal from Atherton and 5-8 Melissa Pun from San Francisco.
The team’s first goal is to win the Little Three in 2006. Goal number two is to compete for the NESCAC title and the resulting automatic NCAA Tournament bid that goes with it. "Tufts, Amherst, and Middlebury will be strong as usual in the NESCAC," said Vandermeer. "However, the conference has improved tremendously over the past few years and every NESCAC team has quality players. You can’t count anybody out and it will most likely come down to which team is best defensively down the stretch. ”
Vandermeer and her Ephs will get their first indication of how they measure up this season when they open the 2006 season at home hosting the Williams Invitational on September 8 and 9. The Ephs will play Smith and Brandeis on the 8th and Wheaton and Wesleyan the next day.
2005 Season Outlook
WILLIAMSTOWN - There will be a new look when the Williams College volleyball team takes the floor in the Chandler Gymnasium this fall.
But that new look doesn't necessarily mean the Ephs will be any less successful.
Williams head coach Fran Vandermeer will have her hands full with a new line-up, one without the dynamic trio of Joyia Chadwick, Robin Young and Meg Demment.
The three All-Americans graduated in June after compiling a four-year record of 133-18 (.881) while leading Williams to four consecutive NESCAC championships, four straight Little III titles, four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and three consecutive trips to the Elite 8. Williams finished 2004 with a 33-4 record and 50-match win streak vs. NESCAC opponents.
"We graduated three of the very best players in the history of the program last year, but we are returning an experienced and talented core and adding quality first years to that mix," Vandermeer noted. "We'll miss Meg, Robin, and Joyia but this is a new season and we're excited about the challenges ahead of us. As we have done every year, we'll be using the early weeks in the season to learn about ourselves, try different lineups, and see what works best. Although we'll have a new identity this fall, we'll continue to do the things that we believe we need to do to be a championship caliber team.
"We'll work very hard on our team defense, we'll spend a lot of time on ball control, and we'll ask our players to put the team first. The volleyball tradition at Williams has been strong for a very long time and we will work hard to continue to do what it takes to be the best that we can be. One of the keys for us in 2005 will be to see which players are ready to step up and take charge in late-game situations. Who will want the ball may be our biggest question early on."
Despite the departure of that celebrated trio, Vandermeer's cupboard is not bare. In fact, the talent level remains high, beginning with senior co-captains Annie Denison and Kate Sauerhoff. Denison is a powerful 6-foot, 1-inch outside hitter who finished second in the conference and led the Ephs with 557 kills (4.42 per game) in 2004. She has over 1,500 kills in her career and her .312 hitting percentage was also in the conference top 10 for 2004. She is a two-time All-NESCAC selection (2003, 2004) and she was an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American last fall. Sauerhoff is a 6-1 opposite who ranked third for the Ephs as a junior with a .301 hitting percentage and finished second behind Chadwick in total blocks. Combined they give the Ephs size, leadership, experience and an outstanding work ethic.
"Annie and Kate are very tough to defend -- they both hit high and hard and they give us good size defensively at the antennas,' Vandermeer said. "Kate brings such outstanding energy to our team -- her enthusiasm and competitive fire are contagious -- when she plays well, we play well. Annie really understands the game and she gives our team such a calming presence on the floor plus she can just plain knock people over on the other side of the net. I'm looking forward to their leadership -- they love to play the game, they work extremely hard, and they are totally unselfish and supportive team players. The strength of our team is in great hands."
Also returning for Williams are junior starters Alexis Knepp and Krista Suojanen. Knepp was second in NESCAC with 1,239 assists (4.42 per game) last season, she is a two-time AVCA All-Region selection and she was named an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American in 2004.
"Alexis is a quick, athletic quarterback with an excellent jump and strong hands," said Vandermeer. "In her first two seasons she has done a fantastic job of distributing the ball to our hitters and speeding up our offense. She will share more of the team's leadership role this fall and she'll be counted on to make immediate on-court decisions as we implement a three-middle system in 2005."
Suojanen has spent most of her first two seasons playing on the right side but she'll move to the outside hitter position this fall.
"Krista is one of the strongest athletes in our program with a big jump, a powerful arm swing and the ability to mix up her shots," said Vandermeer.
"She is so coachable and her work in the weight room throughout the year demonstrates how dedicated she is to this program's success. She leads by example every time she steps on the floor."
The other returning juniors are Katie Cail, an extremely quick 5-7 defensive specialist and Elizabeth Bond, a versatile 5-10 utility player. Darcy Montevaldo, a 6-2 middle blocker, Valerie Owens, a 5-8 outside hitter, and Liz Hirschhorn, a 5-10 setter are all sophomores with varsity experience. Three first-years who will be competing for playing time are Whitney Hitchcock, a 5-11 outside hitter, Molly Hunter, a 6-0 middle blocker, and Riki McDermott, a 5-10 outside hitter.
"We have talented and experienced players throughout our roster and there will be a lot of playing time up for grabs this season for the first time in a while," Vandermeer said. "The players who earn regular spots in the lineup will be the players who come in day in and day out and compete for those positions."
The Ephs place atop the conference is certainly no given. Tufts finished 28-6, 9-1 in the NESCAC, last season and is primed for another run. Amherst returns several starters from a team that finished third with a 23-7, 8-2 record. Middlebury, Colby and Bates are in position to challenge for the top spot as well.
In the region, Vandermeer pointed to Coast Guard, MIT, Springfield and Wellesley as teams to beat when NCAA Tournament time rolls around in November.
"It's exciting to have a 'young' team again," Vandermeer said. "and our coaching staff is looking forward to getting back in the gym and going to work with our athletes. We will be solid offensively right from the start and our athleticism and team chemistry are strengths. We'll need to improve our blocking efficiency and our team serve receive may be the most noticeable difference from last season to this one. I know we'll be a work in progress with new players in key positions, but I have the utmost confidence in our athletes and I know how hard our players will work to gain the necessary experience.
"The NESCAC is much improved in recent years with talented players from all over the country on many rosters. We know teams will play their best against us and we are very motivated to meet those challenges head on."
The Ephs open their season Friday, Sept. 9 at home with its own Williams Invitational. Williams will face Lasell at 4 p.m. Friday and Bates at 8 p.m. Friday evening.
2004 Season Wrap-Up
The Ephs' 2004 season was, quite frankly, like no other season before. 2004 was the year that Williams College discovered volleyball.
Volleyball has been a varsity sport at Williams since 1976, but it really arrived on this November 20th when the Ephs hosted NYU in a NCAA Elite Eight contest and over 800 fans swarmed Chandler Gym for the last home contest for a terrific trio of seniors and a host of young and talented Eph players.
This fall the Ephs won their fourth consecutive NESCAC title and boosted their streak of consecutive wins vs. NESCAC opponents to 50. The Ephs compiled a record of 33-4 on the year and set a school record for consecutive wins with 19.
In the NCAA New England Regional Tournament that the Ephs hosted they downed Bridgewater St. 3-1 and Springfield 3-0, before losing to NYU the following week.
The terrific trio of seniors: Joyia Chadwick, Meg Demment and Robin Young set a new standard of excellence for Williams volleyball by compiling a career mark of 133-18 (.881). They also posted a Chandler Gym mark of 42-1 and led Williams to three straight NCAA New England titles and three straight trips to the NCAA Elite Eight.
Chadwick, the first Eph ever to earn All-America honors in volleyball, ended up earning All-America honors three straight years. She was a Third Team selection in 2002, moved up tot the Second Team in 2003 and was a First Team choice in 2004.
Robin Young recorded a rare double-double in the course of earning All-America recognition two years in a row. Young was named both the NESCAC Player and Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row and she was also named the NEWVA Player of the Year in consecutive years.
Demment, who came in as a setter and moved to libero after her sophomore season, recorded several All-New England honors as the glue of the team and was accorded Honorable Mention all-America honors in 2004.
Junior OH Annie Denison and sophomore setter Alexis Knepp were also named All-New England by the AVCA and Honorable Mention All-Americans by the AVCA. It was the second year in a row that Dennison was both AVCA All-New England and an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American.
Head Coach Fran Vandermeer was named the 2004 AVCA New England Coach of the Year, recording her second AVCA New England Coach of the Year award in the last three years as she was previously honored in 2002. Vandermeer now sports a glittering record of 155-31 (.833) in her five years at Williams.
For the second consecutive year Vandermeer's Ephs earned a GamePlan/AVCA Team Academic Award for having a cumulative team grade point average of at least 3.30.
Sensational Senior Trio Sets Eph Win Mark
Seniors Meg Demment, Joyia Chadwick and Robin Young have elevated the Eph volleyball program to heights never before seen at Williams with three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and two straight NCAA Quarterfinals appearances after winning three consecutive NESCAC volleyball titles. Through October 22nd the Ephs had compiled a season record of 23-3 and their 3-1 win over Smith gave this trio the all-time record for wins by a class at Williams with 123. Heading into a match at Vassar on October 26th the Class of 2005 now has 125 wins against just 17 losses (.880).
2004 Season Outlook
The numbers are staggering – over the last four years the Williams women's volleyball team has won over 80 percent of its 149 contests (122-27, .818) and has begun to garner consistent national attention. The Ephs' national recognition has sprung from three consecutive Little Three titles, three straight NESCAC titles and three straight trips to the NCAA Tourney. The three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tourney and two consecutive quarterfinals berths are both Williams' firsts.
The numbers are staggering – Head Coach Fran Vandermeer has four returning players who achieved at least Honorable Mention All-America honors in 2003 and lost just one player to graduation. Five starters and the Libero return for 2004. Lost to graduation was middle blocker Akilah Rogers whose leadership and poise will be a challenge to replace.
The numbers are staggering – the terrific trio of seniors, Joyia Chadwick, Meg Demment and Robin Young, has won an astounding 87% of their contests (100-14) while wearing purple. With 23 more wins Chadwick-Demment-Young, the Class of 2005, would become the all-time leader in wins at Williams. While that would be a nice accomplishment, these Ephs have their sights set on accomplishing more.
Last season the Ephs were ranked in a tie for 19th in the AVCA pre-season national poll and they finished the year ranked 18th despite advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
Many dedicated Williams volleyball fans would tell you that if you selected an all-time Williams volleyball team it would have to include the trio of Chadwick, Demment and Young. Both Chadwick (2002) and Young (2003) have been named NESCAC Player of the Year in the past. In 2003 Young was also named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and the New England Women's Volleyball Association (NEWVA) Player of the Year. "The three seniors complement each other so well," said Vandermeer. "Robin is a fiery competitor, Meg is a composed and upbeat floor leader, and Joyia is a mixture of both. All of our younger players have someone they can turn to and someone to emulate."
Chadwick, the first Eph to be named an All-American, has earned All-America honors two consecutive years and is one of the most dynamic frontcourt players in the nation. Chadwick averaged almost four kills a game (3.97) in 2003 with 488 in 123 games. The 6'2" senior middle blocker also notched a NESCAC-leading 198 blocks, averaging 1.61 per game, en route to earning Second Team All-America laurels. Chadwick earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors once last season. According to Vandermeer, "When Joyia gets on a roll, she can be unstoppable on offense and a totally dominating blocking presence. She pushes herself as hard as any player I've ever coached in every drill of every practice -- that work ethic has already paid dividends and I believe the best is yet to come."
Demment, a senior co-captain and one of the best setters ever to play in the Purple Valley, moved to libero last fall and immediately made an already strong passing and defensive unit even tougher to beat. As a setter her sophomore year, Demment was a First Team All-New England selection by the AVCA. Last fall Demment earned Second Team All-NESCAC and NEWVA team honors. "Some of that recognition is based on statistics and I think Meg was overlooked a bit last season due to her versatility on the court (she split time setting and playing libero)," said Vandermeer. "No other player in our program has the all-around ball control skills that Meg possesses." An important rule change for this fall allows the libero to serve and Meg's serve is an essential weapon for the Ephs to have back in their rotation. "Meg is a terrific player and she is also a class act on and off the court."
Young is a senior co-captain and one of the most talented all-around players in Williams volleyball history. The 5'8" outside hitter has all the tools as noted a year ago when she was both the NESCAC Player of the Year and NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year. Her jump serve is a key component of the Ephs' offense and she is an incredibly athletic outside hitter (26" vertical), but she probably takes the most pride in how hard she plays on the other side of the ball. "Robin refuses to let the ball fall to the floor -- her intensity on defense and her will to excel on serve receive is an inspiration to the entire team to compete at a high level on every point," says Vandermeer. Young led the Ephs in digs with 5.21 per game and service aces with 82. She also averaged 3.33 kills per game, third best on the team. Twice last season Young earned NESCAC Player of the week honors and she was an AVCA Honorable Mention All-America. "Robin really understands the game and she hates to lose more than anyone I know -- she is very motivated to lead the Ephs to success in her senior year."
"I'm excited for the seniors this season", said Vandermeer. "They have helped set the tone for this program from the very first day they walked in the gym as first years. All three just love to play, love to compete and that has rubbed off on the rest of the team over the years. They are committed to our team goals and their work ethic is beyond compare – our team is in great hands!"
The 2004 Ephs have talent and depth in every class. Junior outside hitter Annie Denison and sophomore setter Alexis Knepp were honorable-mention All-America selections in 2003. The 6'1" Denison was second on the Ephs and fifth in NESCAC last fall in kills per game with 3.82 and she was named the NESCAC Player of the week once, while Knepp averaged 7.71 assists per game as a first-year quarterback.
6'1" junior Kate Sauerhoff will move from opposite to middle blocker in 2004 where she will impact the offense immediately and bring additional energy to the Eph attack. Sophomore Krista Suojanen (OPP) has returned with a year of experience under her belt and she looks strong in the pre-season workouts. She is a versatile player and is likely to help the team on offense, defense, and serve receive.
Sophomores Elizabeth Bond (OH), Katie Cail (DS) and first years Liz Hirschhorn (S), Valerie Owens (OH), and Darcy Montevaldo (OPP) round out the roster.
According to Vandermeer, "This team recognizes that volleyball is not an individual sport – we are only as strong as the sum of our parts. We have the same expectations of all of our players at practices and games. We are setting our goals high and working on developing the chemistry and cohesiveness needed to attain them. Our biggest strengths are our experience, size, and defensive commitment. We'll be looking to improve the efficiency of our footwork and our serving game, while we continue to work on speeding up the tempo of our offense."
One of the Ephs' goals this season will be to earn homecourt advantage in the NCAA Tournament as they have played all of their NCAA Tournament contests on the road in the past three seasons. The winner of the NESCAC will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA's and the team's primary focus will be on those conference matches where the strongest challengers are likely to be Tufts, Bates, and Little III rivals Amherst and Wesleyan. The Ephs expect the region's biggest non-conference battles to come from Springfield, MIT, Wellesley, and Coast Guard. The schedule also includes trips to the Ithaca Invitational, the Elmhurst Invitational in Chicago, IL and the Hall of Fame and MIT tournaments.
2003 Season Wrap-Up
Matching a previous season's record of 36-6, two consecutive Little Three titles, two consecutive NESCAC titles, an NCAA New England Regional Championship, and advancement to the NCAA national quarterfinals is difficult to do. But the women's volleyball team did just that and more as they stepped up to the challenge and improved upon their previous year's results. Advancing all the way to the NCAA national quarterfinals for the second consecutive year, the Ephs ended with an overall record of 35-4 and earned a national ranking of 18th, the best that any Williams women's volleyball team has ever achieved.
An undefeated record at home made the Chandler Gymnasium a very unfriendly place for any opponent to come into. That, combined with the intimidating junior trio of Meg Demment, Joyia Chadwick, and Robin Young, could make any team nervous to take on the Ephs. Robin Young was named to the All-NESCAC team, but was also named both NESCAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as well as AVCA All-American Honorable Mention. Chadwick led the conference with 1.56 blocks per game and was also among conference leaders in hitting percentage (.353, kills per game (4.04) and earned All-American honors for the second year in a row. Demment averaged 5.15 assists per game and 3.48 digs per games for the Ephs en route to All-New England and All-NESCAC honors.
The Ephs also got strong contributions from sophomores Annie Denison and Kate Sauerhoff and first year Alexis Knepp. Denison earned AVCA All-America Honorable Mention honors and Sauerhoff was third on the team in hitting percentage (.312). Knepp led the Ephs in assists with 7.7 a game and earned AVCA All-American Honorable Mention recognition to go along with her NESCAC Rookie of the Year award.
Akilah Rogers, the lone senior, not only provided the gel to unite the team, but, as Coach Vandermeer, "she competes with so much heart that she is a tremendous inspiration to our younger players." Inspire those younger players she did, as Knepp's first year classmates Elizabeth Bond, Katie Cail and Krista Suojanen also made immediate impacts upon the program.
The Ephs, who were undefeated in their conference, found their biggest opponents outside the conference, especially in Springfield College. The Pride and Ephs split during the regular season, with Springfield handing the Ephs their third loss of the season. The Ephs, who defeated Western Connecticut in the regional semi-final, were then paired against the Pride in the final where they prevailed, battling through four ganes before claiming the victory, 3-1.
Although the Ephs fell to Emory by a final score of 3-1 to end the season in the National Elite Eight, they are optimistic of what lies ahead for the team. The junior trio is returning with hopes of ending their Williams careers with a bang, while a talented freshmen class will now have one year of experience under their belt. The Ephs, who continue to improve each year, are already looking not only to another great year of achievements, but one that will make history all over again.
2003 Awards and Highlights
Volleyball developed from a club sport, achieving varsity status for the 1976 season, and has developed into one of the strongest programs in New England.
Sue Hudson-Hamblin coached the team from 1976 to 1985 and her 1980 s quad won the NIAC Championship. The 1981, 1983, and 1985 teams also participated in the NIAC tournament. Nancy Roberts took over the program in 1986 and coached for four seasons. The 1986 team won the Little Three Championship. The 1987 and 1988 teams participated in the NIAC Tournament. The 1989 team earned the first ECAC-New England tournament bid.
Pat Manning took over the program in the fall of 1990. The schedule was made more competitive, with the Ephs facing some of the strongest teams in the northeast. The 1994 team made history by setting the record for most wins in a season with 27 and earned the first NCAA bid for Williams volleyball. That team was ranked fourth in New England and won the NESCAC championship. The 1995 team became the first to achieve a 30-win season, going 32-3 and set the current record for most wins in a season. The 1995 team earned a second NCAA berth, finished the season ranked fourth in New England and won the NESCAC and Little Three championships. The 1996 team continued the winning tradition going 30-5 and was the first Eph team to win the ECAC-New England title, while repeating as Little Three champions.
In 1997, Williams finished 28-9, second in NESCAC and at the ECAC-North Tournament, while earning their third consecutive Little Three title. 1998 saw another second place NESCAC finish, a fourth Little Three title and the departure of Coach Manning. The 1999 squad endured a rebuilding year, finishing 19-17 under interim coach Robert Mosca.
Fran Vandermeer's debut as head coach in 2000 found the Ephs advancing to the NESCAC and ECAC-North Tournaments on their way to a 22-14 record. Senior Shekinah Cohn was named to the Second Team on the 2000 All-NESCAC team.
The fall of 2001 marked Vandermeer's second season with the Ephs and she guided the Ephs to a remarkable record of 29-4. With just one senior on the roster, Vandermeer's young Ephs were forced to grow up quickly and they did by winning the 2001 NESCAC Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The Ephs advanced to the New England Regional finals where they lost in five games to Wellesley. At season's end Vandermeer's Eph squad generated some nationa interest as they finished just out of the top 20 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll in Division III
In 2002 Vandermeer guided the Ephs to a second consecutive Little Three title, second straight NESCAC title, a school-record 36 wins (36-6) the NCAA New England Regional Title and a berth in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Ephs finished the season ranked 20th nationally.
The 2003 Ephs compiled a record of 35-4 and won their third consecutive NESCAC title and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the second consecutive year, finishing the season ranked 18th nationally.
2002 Awards and Highlights
2001 Awards and Highlights