Volleyball | Highs and lows: Jumbos split first two conference matches
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 07:09
Riding the momentum of a 3-1 performance at the Brandeis Invitational, the women’s volleyball team opened its 2012 NESCAC schedule by splitting matches against Trinity and Amherst at Cousens Gymnasium this past weekend.
Despite getting off to a relatively sluggish start against the Lord Jeffs on Saturday afternoon, the Jumbos picked up their level of play in the match’s final two sets to pull off a 3-1 victory.
“As a team we regrouped and decided we needed to change something,” said senior co-captain Kendall Lord, who finished Saturday’s contest with 39 assists to go along with two service aces and 12 digs. “We needed to change our mental focus and strategy when we go into games. We definitely did that [against Amherst]; we went into the match with the mentality that we would learn from every point.”
Coach Cora Thompson’s squad edged out a 25-21 victory in the first set before squandering an early lead in the second set and falling into a 1-1 tie with Amherst halfway through the match.
That’s when things changed for the Jumbos. After battling neck-and-neck with the Lord Jeffs in the beginning of the third set, Tufts went on a 16-5 run to secure the set behind the strong play of sophomore outside hitters Kelly Brennan and Jess Ingrum.
“I thought we played really steady the whole game,” Lord said. “We let a couple points slip in the second set, but I thought for the most part we played really consistently throughout the whole game. There was never a feeling on the court that we were going to lose.”
Brennan and Ingrum led the Jumbos, combining for 31 kills and 15 digs in the victory. First-year Carolina Berger impressed in only the fourth match of her collegiate career, stepping up defensively by recording 14 digs.
“I was very impressed with the freshmen this weekend stepping up and filling in roles,” Lord said. “We asked them to play roles that most freshmen don’t get to during the second week of the season. I was very proud of Carolina stepping in as libero and bolstering the defense and second row.”
Friday night against Trinity, however, was a different story for the Jumbos. In its first home match in front of a big “Fan the Fire” crowd at Cousens Gymnasium, Tufts failed to live up to its own expectations and was swept in straight sets by the Bantams.
“We were very pumped up and excited to play Trinity at home, especially at home with Fan the Fire and a lot of fans,” Lord said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t play as well as we had hoped. I think we wanted it so badly that we overplayed.”
Tufts’ defense struggled mightily, allowing Trinity to post a .323 hitting percentage that included a dominating effort from freshman Kate Giddins, who torched the Jumbos for 15 kills and just two errors on an incredible .650 hitting percentage. Offensively, the Jumbos never found a rhythm, finishing with a meager .050 hitting percentage and accumulating 24 kills.
“Trinity played a great match,” Lord said. “They just did everything pretty well, picking up everything in the back row and doing a good job hitting around our blocks..”
“We let the crowd and the pressure of playing our first home game get the best of us,” Brennan added.
Junior libero Virginia Clay was among the few bright spots for Tufts on Friday night, accounting for nine digs. Brennan and sophomore outside hitter Hayley Hopper combined for 14 kills.
The Jumbos are off until Friday, when they take on Newbury College at home in the first round of the MIT Invitational.