Volleyball | Volleyball team wins two, drops one in weekend trip to Maine
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 01:10
The Tufts volleyball team returned from its weekend NESCAC play in Maine with more than just the two wins and one loss on the scorebooks. After being blanked 3−0 a week ago by UMass−Boston, the Jumbos were able to prove their mental stamina in wins against Bates and Colby and a near−comeback loss to Bowdoin, all of which contribute to a much−needed confidence boost heading into the home stretch of the season.
With both major wins and disappointing losses on the season thus far, the Jumbos have made consistency a priority. The trouble for the team comes when its mental foundations break and, consequently, its cohesiveness vanishes.
“In the past, we have had mental struggles with staying consistent,” sophomore Isabel Kuhel said. “In the Bowdoin match especially, we were able to play hard whether we were down two sets or up. We fought to the end no matter the score.”
Tufts started the weekend with a 3−1 win against Bates on Friday, marked by performances such as sophomore outside hitter Kelly Brennan’s 13 kills and senior tri−captain Kendall Lord’s match−high 42 assists.
The team then built on that success with a 3−1 Saturday morning victory over Colby, in which Brennan was once again a star for the Jumbos. The sophomore compiled 14 kills and a match−high 24 digs, as the Jumbos fought back from a first−set loss to win the following three sets 25−22, 25−15 and 25−9. Brennan leads the team with 190 kills on the season.
Statistics, however, tell only half the story of what these weekend games mean to the Jumbos’ improvement, and the high−adrenaline 3−2 loss to Bowdoin in the final game of the weekend made that abundantly clear.
The Polar Bears jumped out to a quick 2−0 lead before Tufts turned the game around in a hard−fought rally led by Lord’s 39 assists and team−high 21 digs. After four sets, the teams were even at 2−2. Although Tufts was able to keep the match close in the last set, tying at 10−10 and then 13−13, Bowdoin was able to pull out the 15−13 victory for the set and match.
Although a glance at the weekend results on paper seem to show yet another stretch of both highs and lows, this team feels that major progress was made on its path to postseason success.
“I feel like we are really moving on an upward curve, showing how well we can play together,” senior tri−captain Kiersten Ellefsen said. “It’s about raising the bar higher and higher, and then sustaining that level of play.”
The Jumbos can take some satisfaction in how far they pushed a Bowdoin team that currently sits at the top of the NESCAC with a 15−2 overall record and a 6−1 conference record.
Despite not being able to complete the comeback, the sheer effort and persistence speak to the Jumbos’ reestablished aura of confidence after a weekend in which they nearly swept Maine’s portion of the league.
“We had the grit, the refuse−to−lose attitude, to come back [against Bowdoin],” Ellefsen said. “I think our team from two weeks ago would have laid down and lost that third set.”
Now, with a 10−6 overall record and a 5−2 mark in the NESCAC, the Jumbos will face Hamilton at home on Friday, which sits third−to−last in the conference. The team’s weekend accomplishments and mental endurance serve as proof of just how well it can play, and the players need to maintain that same focus moving forward.
“Even though we lost to Bowdoin, I think we feel really good,” Ellefsen said. “We have proved we can compete with anyone in the NESCAC. Although they snuck away with the win, we can’t wait to see them again.”
Tufts will also get its opportunity for retribution against Bowdoin on Oct. 19 at the Hall of Fame Tournament at Mount Holyoke College.