After an impressive regular season from Colby Volleyball, losses to conference rivals Williams and Amherst saw the Mules drop to 4–6 in conference play, with an overall record of 14–8. After suffering a 3–0 loss to Williams at home this past Friday, the Mules entered Saturday’s matchup against Amherst with the hope of ending a terrific regular season on a high note.
Middle blocker Natalie Bumpus `23 opened the set with a perfectly placed tip over the Amherst blockers. However, the Mammoths responded immediately with kills from their outside hitters, giving them an early lead. Colby’s second middle blocker, Hannah Wyllie `24, got an important kill to stop the early bleeding after four unanswered points by the Mammoths.
Relentless attacks and outstanding defense by the Mammoths contributed to their lead growing consistently throughout the beginning of the set, eventually leading to Colby calling an early timeout, trailing 10–4. Despite the early break, constant pressure from Amherst’s hitters saw the Mules concede four more points, forcing the coaching staff to call their second and final timeout of the set.
Coming out of this timeout, the Mules managed to spark some energy in the crowd, as Wyllie scored off a kill and L.J. Grant `26 got an ace. Despite the brief excitement among the Colby crowd, the Amherst attack proved too much for Colby to handle in the first set — Colby’s blockers were never quite able to match the tempo of the Mammoth attacks. Amherst managed to close out the first set with a 25–16 victory.
The Mammoths came out firing to open the second set, immediately putting the Mules on the backfoot. Colby’s coaching team called another early timeout, trailing by a score of 4–9. The Mules demonstrated their talent on several occasions throughout the second set. Most notably, a terrific block from Wyllie capped off an early rally between the two sides, while a few crucial kills from Bumpus kept the Mules afloat.
The Mules managed to close the gap to just three points, trailing by a score of 11–14, and forcing Amherst to call time. However, the Mammoths came out red-hot following the break, scoring five consecutive points and forcing the Mules to call a timeout in turn. Despite the uphill task of mounting a comeback, the Mules refused to give up, scoring a couple of crucial points to keep them just within reaching distance of Amherst.
Trailing 24–19 with the game point in the hands of the Mammoths, Colby began to chip away at the lead. Bumpus secured another kill out of the middle and eventually, Colby narrowed the lead to 24–22, forcing the Mammoths to call timeout, much to the jubilation of the Colby supporters. After the break, Bumpus managed to get another massive kill, leaving Colby trailing by just a single point. Despite the grit and fire, Colby showed to the end of the second set, the Amherst attack proved just too much for the Mules to handle, as the Mammoths closed out the set 25–23.
As the third set began, Amherst once again flew out of the gates, refusing to allow the Mules to maintain the momentum they had built at the close of the second set. A combination of unbelievable defense, as well as brilliant attack selection by the Amherst front line, quickly concluded the third set, as the Mammoths comfortably took the set 25–13 and won the game three sets to zero.
Grant, Wyllie, and Sydney Bopp `26 led the team with six kills each, and Grant and Bella Schumacher `25 led in digs, with twelve and eleven respectively. The eighth-seeded Mules will now look ahead to the first round of the playoffs this Friday when they take on the first-seeded Wesleyan Cardinals.
~ Mason Groves `23
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