Tufts wins first two NESCAC games of season
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 03:09
Tufts volleyball improved its record to 9-4 by winning two out of three games this weekend. The Jumbos started their NESCAC campaign at Cousens Gymnasium with wins against Trinity on Friday night and Wesleyan on Saturday. They fell to visiting Roger Williams in the final game of the weekend, taking New England’s top-ranked team to five sets.
The Jumbos came out strong in Friday’s game against Trinity, immediately establishing their presence in the NESCAC with a sweep of the Bantams. All three sets were closely contested, with Tufts edging out Trinity by 13 points total.
The first set was tied at 22 before the Bantams lost control of the set by committing two ill-timed errors. Tufts won 25-22, then took the second set 25-20. The Jumbos fell behind early in the third set but recovered to score six straight points at the end and finish off the sweep with another 25-20 win.
First-year outside hitter Mary Maccabee posted a team-high 11 kills, while fellow freshman middle hitter Elizabeth Ahrens had four blocks. Sophomore libero Carolina Berger led the Jumbos in digs with 12.
The Jumbos followed up their sweep of Trinity by taking down Wesleyan in a similar manner in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Once again, the three sets were closely contested with Tufts outscoring the Cardinals by just 11 points. Tufts took the first two sets by the same score, 25-21, but the third set was even closer. Wesleyan went up 16-11, only to watch the Jumbos go on a 10-1 run on service from Berger and junior tri-captain Jessica Ingrum. The comeback was capped with a 25-22 win for the set and the match. Junior hitter Hayley Hopper had eight kills, three aces and 12 points for Tufts.
The Jumbos were flying high after coming out on top in six consecutive sets. Ahrens attributed the team’s success in tight spots to their concentration and poise under pressure.
“Wesleyan and Trinity were both great games and they were some great competition,” Ahrens said. “But staying composed and keeping the team focused on our game was the most important tool in winning those matches.”
Tufts needed every ounce of mental strength it could muster against Roger Williams in Saturday’s second game. The Hawks boasted a 15-0 record coming into the match against the Jumbos.
The two teams traded wins throughout the seesaw affair, with Roger Williams winning the first, third and fifth set. In the second set, there were six ties before Tufts took a 25-21 victory on six kills from junior outside hitter Hayley Hopper. She would go on to lead both the Jumbos and the match with 16 kills total.
The fourth set, too, was a close contest for Tufts. Led by sophomore setter Kyra Baum’s two kills and nine assists on offense, the Jumbos took a 25-19 win to even the match at two sets apiece.
The Jumbos jumped out to an early lead in the fifth set but were unable to fend off the Hawks, who came roaring back to win 15-7 and take the match. It was just the third time Roger Williams has gone to five sets in a match, the other times coming against Wellesley and Connecticut College.
“It was frustrating losing the last game to Roger Williams because we were so close,” junior Rebecca Rubin said. “They are an extremely talented team, and being neck-in-neck with them enforces the fact that our team has a lot of potential.”
Indeed, the Jumbos proved their mettle by nearly upsetting the region’s top team. Though they ultimately came up short, there’s plenty they can take away in the form of valuable experience.
“While it’s always better to win, we learned a lot in the Roger Williams game,” Ahrens said. “[Tufts volleyball] loves playing great competition, and we are only looking at the outcome as an opportunity to better our game.”
With no games scheduled this week the Jumbos will have plenty of time for improvement. They resume play with a doubleheader on Saturday versus Conn. College and UMass Boston.