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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

Jumbos shine at MIT Invitational

Tufts senior Kyra Baum, a setter and defensive specialist, looks to continue her impressive performances from last season.

After opening the season with a disappointing 3-1 record at the Colorado College Classic, the women’s volleyball team bounced back with an impressive showing at the MIT Invitational over the weekend. The Jumbos earned their first winning streak of the season, stringing together three straight victories before narrowly losing their final game of the tournament to Springfield College.

Coach Cora Thompson credited her team’s improved play to strong all-around performances and better cohesion on the court.

“Our weekend’s successes were the result of a full team effort,” Thompson said. “Every player saw time on the court and contributed. We are playing more consistently as a group because we are getting more comfortable with each other in practice, which is translating nicely into our matches.”

The Jumbos are now 4-4 on the season after splitting Saturday’s doubleheader. Tufts won its first match against DeSales University but dropped the second to Springfield College, both in five sets. Tufts took Springfield College down to the wire and even outscored the eventual victor 99-98 in total points. The Jumbos also played superior defense, with 39 more digs than their opponents, but the Pride were more polished offensively and came away with the win after taking the fifth set 15-10.

Junior Maddie Kuppe was named to the All-Tournament team after an outstanding weekend in which she recorded 37 kills, 47 digs and 12 service aces. Like Thompson, she was surprised by how much the Jumbos had progressed in just one week.

“This weekend was a great opportunity for our team to come together and fully demonstrate the hard work we've put forth in response to our first matches of the season,” Kuppe said. “We spent a lot of time in practice working on specific weaknesses that were exposed during our time in Colorado, so it was incredibly rewarding to see each of us step up and take care of those details we addressed.”

Tufts looked like a noticeably better team on Friday as well, beating both Babson College and Husson University at home. Led by senior tri-captain Hayley Hopper’s 21 kills and 24 digs, the Jumbos overcame a 2-1 set deficit and a 6-0 disadvantage in the fifth set to pull out a 3-2 victory over the Beavers in the opener. The nightcap proved much easier for the home team, resulting in a three-set-to-zero win over Husson in what was easily Tufts’ most dominant victory of the season. The Jumbos demolished the Eagles 75-33, winning each set by at least 11 points and by an average of 14.

“I thought we did a wonderful job focusing on our side of the court while adjusting to the teams we were playing,” Thompson said after the doubleheader sweep.

Tufts will try to get back over .500 during this weekend’s trip to Maine against NESCAC rivals Colby and Bowdoin. The games will not be easy, as the two teams have combined for only one loss, but Thompson is confident in her team’s ability to hang with the competition and, more importantly, keep getting better.

“We are working hard to better our game every time we step on the court,” she said. “We are looking forward to these NESCAC opportunities as we continue to improve. If we play our best, we will have a good weekend on the road in Maine.”