Volleyball | Jumbos win three of four at Brandeis Invitational
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 08:09
The volleyball team got off to a strong start this weekend, winning three of their four matches at the Brandeis Invitational, an impressive performance given the lack of experience on the roster.
There was a lot of uncertainty heading into the weekend, as coach Cora Thompson was tasked with integrating seven new players, a challenge made even more difficult by a shortened preseason that lasted just two weeks. In the Jumbos’ season debut, however, it looked like the squad had been playing together for years.
“The team has worked very hard the past two weeks,” junior tri-captain Jessica Ingrum said. “Although [two weeks] is not a lot of time compared to what other programs and conferences get in the region, we are efficient with the time we do have, and I truly believe we have made some great strides this preseason.”
Tufts opened its 2013 campaign by besting Emmanuel, 3-0, in Friday’s season opener. Juniors Isabel Kuhel and Hayley Hopper paced the offensive attack, combining for 20 kills. They received plenty of help from sophomore setter Kyra Baum, who contributed 36 assists in her first career start.
“She did a great job for her first full collegiate weekend,” Thompson said of Baum. “She is getting more and more comfortable out there running the offense, which is great to see. She connected really well with all of our hitters.”
Baum looked especially comfortable in the tournament’s second match, in which she registered 28 assists to eight different teammates as Tufts topped Rhode Island College in four sets. The Jumbos appeared to be in synch with each other, exhibiting great teamwork and ball movement.
“I thought we did an excellent job staying composed while trying some new things with new pieces,” Thompson said. “We were able to play all of our rookies, and each and every one of them had a standout moment at some point during the weekend. I was proud of their efforts. The competition was solid, and we competed well against very strong programs.”
Thompson was pleased to see all of the team’s hard work pay off in the first matches of the year.
“Our team chemistry looks and feels great, and to have that feeling this early on is quite a bonus,” she said. “It’s certainly a testament to the team and how hard they are working together as they start to [work] as one unit. We had some wonderful performances.”
That harmony played a crucial role again on Saturday, helping Tufts persevere through a hard-fought battle with Brandeis before emerging victorious in the fifth set. Kuhel, Hopper and Ingrum all totaled double-digit kills, while Baum continued her stellar play, compiling 52 assists.
Tufts made a valiant effort against undefeated Wellesley in the tournament finale but ultimately fell short and suffered its first loss, 3-1. Kuhel was named to the All-Tournament team after racking up a team-high 46 kills in the tournament.
“Izzy played at a really high level the whole weekend, with her best performances against the best teams,” Thompson said.
The Jumbos played their home opener yesterday versus Colby-Sawyer, the results of which were not available at press time. The visiting Chargers entered with a 3-2 record, most recently defeating the University of New England on Saturday.