Volleyball | Tufts loses last two regular−season games, looks to regroup heading into tournament
Losses to Williams, Middlebury not a promising sign
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 00:10
After a regular season that saw its share of ups and downs, the women’s volleyball team dropped its final two games, finishing with an overall record of 13−12 and earning the 6th seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament. The Jumbos, who have struggled at times to maintain their level of consistency on the court, will take on Bowdoin Friday night in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Polar Bears won both matchups against Tufts this season.
Despite riding the momentum of a 2−1 performance in the Hall of Fame tournament last weekend, the Jumbos struggled in their next matches, falling to conference foes Williams and Middlebury in consecutive days. Against Williams, Tufts was unable to get into rhythm offensively, finishing the match with a disappointing .114 hitting percentage.
“Williams played better than we had ever seen them play before,” sophomore middle blocker Cameron Longyear said. “Overall, it was a really good game and I think we played pretty well, but, in the end, we needed a little more push in the game.”
Coach Cora Thompson’s team raced to a 14−8 lead in the first set before a series of errors by the Jumbos and big plays by sophomore outside hitter Claire Miller helped the Ephs tie the score up at 18. The Ephs rallied from there, taking the first set 25−21.
“Williams just really came out to play,” said senior tri−captain Kendall Lord. “They did a great job defending us, hitting in the right places and doing all the little things right. It could’ve gone either way with a few tough points at the end.”
The second set was all Williams as the Ephs dominated right from the beginning, jumping out to a 10−5 lead and eventually taking the set 25−13. The Jumbos, however, came roaring back in the third. Tufts and Williams traded points for much of the set before the Jumbos took a 19−15 late in the game. The four−point lead proved to be insurmountable, and Tufts triumphed 25−18. The final set went down to the wire, but the Williams offensive attack at the net was too much to handle, forcing the Jumbos into a 3−1 loss.
“We needed to stay mentally tough every point, and we needed to make sure we were confident in every point,” Longyear said. “We were giving it our all, but I don’t think we always had the right mentality. We need to be confident with every point and we were there with some points, but other points we shut down.”
Sophomore outside hitter Hayley Hopper put together a well−rounded performance with 14 kills and nine digs, while Lord provided her usual stability in the middle of the court, accounting for 39 assists and 13 digs.
Saturday’s matchup against Middlebury was a lopsided one with the Panthers dominating the flow of the game right from the start. The Jumbos lost in straight sets and had no answer for the stifling defensive play from the Panthers.
“Middlebury gave us all they had, and we didn’t have enough right from the beginning,” Longyear said. “We hope to see them again this weekend and get back at them.”
With the regular season now over, the Jumbos have an opportunity to gather themselves and begin preparing for what promises to be an intense weekend at the NESCAC tournament hosted by Conn. College. Despite losing twice to Bowdoin this season, Tufts is confident that it has the ability to take down the Polar Bears.
“I think it’s just the mentality we need to focus on,” Longyear said. “We have the skill to beat anyone, we just need to believe in ourselves. We have all the players and a very deep bench so anything is possible.”
“It’s very hard to beat a team three times in a row,” Lord added. “We know how they play. We’ve seen them before. We have a lot of fire whenever we play against them. We know we are capable of beating them. We are going to fight and so will they, so we will see what happens.”