Volleyball | Jumbos win three of four at Brandeis Invitational
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 06:09
Fueled by the performance of senior tri-captain setter Kendall Lord, the volleyball team’s offense was typically dominating this weekend, leading the team to a 3-1 record at the Brandeis Invitational. The team used its traditional strengths to get off to a positive start to the year, as the Jumbos bounced back from an early loss to Wellesley and rallied from behind to defeat Babson in a five-set thriller Saturday afternoon.
“I think our biggest strength was that we were really excited for the weekend,” senior tri-captain Natalie Bruck said. “We have been doing a lot of off the court team bonding stuff for the past couple of weeks, but we haven’t had a lot of time on the court together in scrimmages and games.”
The Jumbos fell behind 2-1 against the Beavers before taking the fourth and fifth sets, largely because of the stellar play of Lord and sophomore outside hitter Kelly Brennan. Lord, the reigning co-NESCAC Player of the Year, finished the contest with 37 assists, three service aces, 16 digs and three block assists, while Brennan accumulated 14 kills and five digs without committing any passing errors.
Despite playing in one of her first collegiate matches, first-year outside hitter Jess Ingrum played a major role down the stretch against Babson, posting five kills, three digs, one block and two assists in only three sets.
“Jess did a really great job,” Bruck said. “She totally stepped in well. We were getting really quiet on the court and we needed to mix things up. She checked in and was very mentally focused and found the right gaps for kills and made the right reads on defense. She pumped up the team with fresh legs and it was exciting to see another teammate do really well.”
On Friday, the Jumbos won their two matches in dominating fashion, defeating Rhode Island College and Brandeis University by a combined six sets to one. In the first contest, Tufts swept the Anchormen behind a great performance from the squad’s imposing sophomore trio of Brennan, Isabel Kuhel and Hayley Hopper, who combined for 27 kills, 19 digs and 10 blocks in the victory, while Lord also put together an impressive effort, finishing with 31 assists, two service aces and five digs.
“[Kuhel, Hopper and Brennan] all brought really great communication to the court,” senior tri-captain Kiersten Ellefsen said. “They were vocalizing well and giving great feedback and celebrating as a team. I think their ability to reach outward to the rest of the teammates allows them to get kills that didn’t feel like their personal kills, but team-earned points. Everyone on the court communicated well, so it was really a group effort.”
In the second contest against the Judges, it was a similar formula for success: an overwhelming net attack coupled with steady, balanced play from Lord, who finished the match with an incredible 41 assists to go along with one service ace and 12 digs. Brandeis, like Rhode Island, struggled mightily, slowing down the Jumbos’ net attack as sophomore Juliana Goodbar joined Kuhel, Hopper and Brennan to combine for 41 kills and eight blocks.
Coach Cora Thompson’s team has the week off before its NESCAC opener at home against Trinity on Friday night. The Bantams finished tied for fourth place in the conference a season ago with a record of 19-9.
“If I know my coach as well as I think I do, I’m sure we will work on some scenarios in practice to help break runs early so we don’t let teams get on runs against us,” Ellefsen said. “We really need to battle back when we are down.”
“[Trinity] is very scrappy every year,” Bruck added. “They always play great defense and pick up a lot of balls. Our challenge is to be equally as energetic so we can stick in the long rallies and find ways to put the ball down.”