Tufts takes two wins, sweeps doubleheader
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 02:09
Tufts volleyball won both of its games this weekend, improving its record to 11-4 overall and moving into a tie for first place in the NESCAC with Williams College.
The Jumbos swept Connecticut College in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, needing just three sets to dispose of the visiting Camels and remain undefeated (3-0) against NESCAC competition. The third set was the closest, with Tufts rallying from an early deficit to edge Conn. College 25-23 and finish off the sweep. Junior Hayley Hopper totaled a whopping 15 kills — no other Jumbo had more than seven — and distributed them evenly with five in each set. The outside hitter also notched a team-high 12 digs.
The Jumbos turned in another strong performance in the second game versus UMass-Boston. After dropping the first set 18-25, Tufts bounced back to take the second set by the same score. The Jumbos then put together their two best sets of the season, winning each one 25-7 while scoring 20 kills in 33 attempts.
This time, Tufts won behind a more balanced offensive attack. Freshman Elizabeth Ahrens and junior Isabel Kuhel led the way with nine kills apiece while Hopper added eight more to her impressive total. The trio got plenty of help from sophomore setter Kyra Baum, who compiled 32 assists to go with her eight digs and two aces.
Kuhel, who made an immediate impact after returning from a 15-day injury absence, said the UMass-Boston game was her favorite part of the season so far.
“They are a great team and have given us a lot of trouble in the past,” Kuhel, the middle hitter, said. “We proved to ourselves just how much we can accomplish if we play consistently at a very high level.”
The Jumbos’ play has been consistent through the first half of the regular season, as the team has not lost consecutive matches so far. Many on the team believe their strong play is linked to the stellar chemistry that formed during the preseason, a bond that has only grown stronger as they have gained more experience with each other on the court. Captain Virginia Clay, the team’s lone senior, praised the ability of her teammates to come together and play as a unit.
“I think one of our biggest strengths this season is our dynamic,” she said. “We get along very well, and there’s definitely a strong sense of cohesion on the court when we play. Communication and competitive energy have also been incredibly important to our success, and we’re constantly working to excel in those areas every time we step out onto the court.”
Clay also credited the boost felt when playing at home in Cousens Gym, where Tufts is 7-2 so far.
“It’s been awesome being able to play at home this month,” Clay said of the favorable schedule. “We love playing in our gym, and the support from the community has been wonderful. I think playing these early matches in a familiar and supportive environment has definitely helped build up our confidence.”
The Jumbos leave that environment behind after completing a stretch of six straight home matches. Their next game is at Williams on Friday night, followed by a Saturday afternoon game at Amherst. Both opponents figure to offer stiff competition, but coach Cora Thompson is excited to see her team prove how good it can be away from home.
“It has been nice to be home so often at the start of this season,
but we are excited to take the show on the road too,” she said. “It will be fun to travel with our team while we continue to compete against some great conference and regional rivals. We will be ready when the time comes.”