In a rematch of last year’s championship final, the Bowdoin volleyball team will face off against No. 5 Williams (13-10, 6-4 NESCAC) in the NESCAC Quarterfinals at Tufts tonight at 8 p.m. The Polar Bears come into the tournament as the No. 4 seed after finishing the regular season 14-9, 6-4 within the NESCAC. 

The team’s postseason experience and success last year will serve as an advantage in its campaign for a second NESCAC title. 

Last year, the team entered the NESCAC tournament in a great position with a record of 20-4, 9-1 NESCAC, earning the No. 1 seed and going on to win the championship in a 3-2 victory over the Ephs. After losing the first two sets, the Polar Bears dominated the next three to become the first team since the playoff system was reformatted in 2001 to come back from a 0-2 deficit in the championship match. The team expects a similarly close match tonight.

“We are fully expecting a tight match,” said Head Coach Erin Cady. “Every time that we’ve played Williams in the past two years, we’ve gone five sets, so [we’re] just mentally preparing for that.”

“[It will definitely be] a very competitive game, which is going to be fun,” said captain Quincy Leech ’17. “Williams always brings their A game, and it’s a great rivalry.”

In September, Bowdoin lost to Williams in a close 3-2 game. During that game, Bowdoin had more kills, blocks, digs and aces than Williams, but the Polar Bears suffered 28 attack errors and 15 service errors. However, the players feel they’ve grown into a much different team over the course of the season. 

“We have had many tough practices, and we are definitely a different team than the one that played earlier in the season,” said Leech. “We definitely are peaking now, which I think is really great. We have worked a lot ...[and] what we lacked we built on.”

However, the team does not underestimate the strength of Williams’ program. According to Cady, the Ephs’ dynamic offense will pose many challenges, such as long rallies. 

“They keep the ball up, they keep the ball in play,” said Cady. “They have really, really good outside hitters that are going to be a big weapon for them.”

“Honestly I think our biggest strength is knowing how hard it is to win NESCACs and knowing [that] the competition is going to be tight,” said Cady. “Mentally preparing for close games is going to be a huge strength of ours—that we’re not going to get rattled when the score is tight or maybe when we’re behind by a few points.”

While the returning players’ experience will be a key advantage this weekend, Leech says the first-year players have proved their value through their maturity and great attitude all season and are looking forward to their first NESCAC playoffs.

“Our [first years] have really stepped it up,” said Leech. “They get to build the program, and it is their legacy starting now. They have come in with a great attitude, and I would not expect anything else from them in the championship this weekend.” 

“As a senior I would love to win, but I also recognize what we built in this program is what is going to last,” Leech added. “The friends and sisters that I have now are what I am going to cherish.”