Volleyball | Here we go again: Tufts faces Bowdoin for third time
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 07:11
Heading into the last weekend of the regular season, five teams were top seed contenders in the NESCAC. Tufts had arguably the toughest path, with matchups against Williams and Middlebury in its last two games. And the schedule played out as expected: the Jumbos dropped both games, fell to 6−4 in the conference and settled for the sixth seed in this weekend’s conference tournament, which will be hosted at Conn. College.
The tournament kicks off tonight with the quarterfinals, which offer the Jumbos a chance to avenge their two regular season losses against defending NESCAC−champion Bowdoin.
“They are one of our biggest rivals, they have been for the last couple years,” senior tri−captain libero Natalie Bruck said. “We want to go after them and get some revenge. We are excited for this game.”
The Jumbos will need to regain some of the resilience they showed earlier in the season if they hope to reaffirm their place among the conference’s elite. Tufts unraveled a bit in its final two games, failing to salvage a win after falling behind in both and succumbing to the relentless offenses of both the Ephs and Panthers.
With plenty of experience against Bowdoin already this season, Tufts will be looking to take a tactical approach to the quarterfinal match. The teams played two very different games — one a 3−2 thriller, the other a 3−0 blowout, but Tufts lost both. The Jumbos know that the key in the playoff matchup will be coming out strong from the first serve.
“With the past two games, we kind of didn’t know how we were going to show up,” senior tri−captain Kiersten Ellefsen said. “This time we will be more decisive about being tough from the start. We have to actively commit to showing up strong. We’re starting this week already going strong, that’s our mindset going into it.”
Historically, Tufts volleyball has found a large degree of success in the NESCAC tournament. Though last year’s semifinal defeat to a lower−seeded Middlebury team was a disappointment, Tufts has made it to conference final four times since 2004 second only to Williams over that period. However, they are 0−4 in those appearances and haven’t won the tournament since 1996.
And even with a relatively low seed in the tournament, there is a lot of room to push into the upper eschelon of the conference. The NESCAC is wide open, with a three−way tie in first between Conn. College, who Tufts defeated in September, Middlebury and Bowdoin. Williams also sits dangerously as the No. 5 seed.
“The NESCAC has been really more up in the air than any other year I’ve been here,” Ellefsen said. “Going into last weekend, it was neck and neck. We could’ve been the second seed if we had won all the games, or the sixth seed, depending how it ended up.”
“There have been a lot of cross overs, a majority of the conference is dead even,” Bruck added. “It will come down to who will show up and refuse to lose, it will be interesting. Anyone can win.”
There is no better time for the Jumbos to break through and finally beat a team they have struggled against all year than right now. An explosive, decisive win on Friday night against Bowdoin would propel the Jumbos into the semifinals with a spark of momentum and a confidence that they can compete with any team in the conference in thetournament.