Volleyball | Jumbos 2-2 at MIT Invitational
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 07:09
Despite a strong 2-0 performance on the first day of the MIT invitational, which sparked hopes of winning the tournament, the volleyball team slumped to two defeats against Springfield and MIT on Saturday, finishing the event 2-2. The Jumbos, who fell to 6-4 on the season, had no answer for the strong net attack and feisty defense from their opponents, winning just one set the entire afternoon.
The Jumbos struggled mightily against the Engineers, losing in straight sets and accumulating only 47 points the entire match. Freshman libero Carolina Berger was among the few bright spots for Tufts, recording 12 digs and one service ace. Sophomore middle blocker Juliana Goodbar also pitched in with four blocks in the match.
“We just lost a lot of our consistency,” senior tri-captain Kiersten Ellefsen said. “We had some ups and downs and let them sneak in there and win a bunch of points. We learned that we need to be a little more consistent with our play.”
It was more of the same for the Jumbos against Springfield. Despite a thrilling 25-18 victory in the first set, Tufts was unable to gather any momentum and dropped the final three sets 25-22, 25-22 and 25-23.
“I think we just let ourselves down mentally,” sophomore middle blocker Isabel Kuhel said. “We were really pumped up to play Springfield because they are a big rival. We came running out of the gates ready to go and when they got some points our mental game started to break down.”
The dynamic duo of sophomore hitter Kelly Brennan — the Jumbos’ lone representative on the all-tournament team — and classmate Hayley Hopper each accounted for 14 kills, while senior tri-captain Kendall Lord continued her strong play, collecting 40 assists and 11 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Jess Ingrum also put together a fine performance with 10 kills and seven digs.
“Springfield is a very good team,” Ellefsen said. “They ended our season the past two years so we knew they were going to be good. We expected a challenge from them and, like in the MIT game, we lost some of our consistency.”
In the tournament’s first two games, however, the Jumbos played the dominating volleyball that fans had been accustomed to seeing. Tufts took straight-set victories against both Newbury College and Smith College, starting each match with a strong first set.
“Our energy and momentum going into the day was great,” Ellefsen said. “We set goals before the game, [and] we had a lot of focus and positive energy as a team in trying to achieve those goals.”
The first match against Newbury was a true team effort -- nearly everyone on the team saw playing time and nine players contributed with at least one kill in the blowout. Brennan led the charge with nine kills and six digs while Hopper, Ingram and freshman middle blocker Minari Karunatilake each recorded at least four kills.
“A lot of people stepped up and filled in roles when we needed them to,” Ellefsen said. “It was awesome to see some of the younger players step in and get some court time.”
Smith didn’t provide much of a challenge for Tufts either as the Jumbos cruised to victory despite slow starts in each of the match’s three sets. Coach Cora Thompson’s squad fell behind 4-0 in the first set before fighting back to retake an 8-7 lead. The Jumbos didn’t look back from there and took the first set 25-20. Brennan, Hopper, sophomore outside hitter Cameron Longyear and Kuhel combined for an impressive 38 kills, using their size to dominate the net. Lord provided her usual stability with 35 assists and five digs.
The Jumbos’ takeaway from the weekend is the importance of staying consistent and focused even when adversity hits.
“As a team we need to work on our mental game,” Kuhel said. “We are a young team and we need to work on staying on the same page and being consistent.”
The Jumbos continue their NESCAC schedule with home matches against Conn. College and Wesleyan next weekend.
“[On Friday] we saw how good we can be when we play focused and determined,” Ellefsen said. “We set the bar high for ourselves and moving forward we need to aim at reaching that level consistently.”