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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Volleyball earns two NESCAC wins in home opener weekend

The Tufts volleyball team faces off against Middlebury on Sept. 30.

Volleyball defeated two NESCAC opponents in its home opener, bringing their overall record to 8–3 and conference record to 3–1. On Friday night, the Jumbos took down the Middlebury Panthers (25–22, 25–16, 25–18), and Saturday afternoon, they did the same against Hamilton Continentals (25–22, 25–16, 26–24). Despite both contests being consistently close in score in each set, Tufts was able to sweep both teams 3–0 to play the minimum of six sets for the weekend. 

Offensive dominance characterized the Jumbos’ first matchup of the weekend, recording 51 kills in a three-set match, a 2021–22 season record thus far. Despite maintaining control of the lead for the majority of the sets, the Panthers still posed a threat with a couple mid-set rallies that kept the score within five. In order to keep that momentum on the Jumbos’ side, junior setter and co-captain Maddie Yu credited the home energy in Cousens Gym. 

“We definitely needed energy on our side of the court, which I think people on the court and off the court provided,” Yu said. “I think it's all just about having that next point mentality. Like yeah, they're gonna get some big kills, big blocks, but it’s just moving on to the next point and controlling what we do on our side.”

Junior outside hitter Rileigh Farragher echoed Yu’s sentiments, further describing the importance of the team’s first home games. 

“It was a really nice feeling, especially for the freshmen, to be able to get to play a game at home,” Farragher said. “And to have our fans there and be able to control the energy a little bit more, was super fun. And it's just gonna be a little bit easier to carry that forward going into this week of another round of home games.”

Senior outside hitter Jennelle Yarwood led the team in kills with 13 for the night, followed closely by junior outside hitter Christine Audette with 10. Yu anchored the board for assists, recording 23.

The match against Hamilton concluded in a short three sets, giving Tufts more fuel for its second NESCAC home matchup the following day. The Hamilton Continentals gave the Jumbos a bit more of a challenge, leading the Jumbos from the start 15–12 in the first set. A combination of ball movement and strong communication, however, got the Tufts offense back on track and in control. The second set went decidedly in the Jumbos’ favor, winning 25-–6. The Continentals did not lose hope, down 2–0, and gave the Jumbos their toughest challenge of the weekend in the third set. Despite Hamilton getting to match point, 24–22, in the third set, Tufts took a timeout, reset and two kills from Yarwood and one from Farragher gave them the win, 26–24. Yu commented on the team’s third set resilience. 

“When we took our time out, we basically just forced ourselves to reset,” Yu said. “We’ve come back from worse, but it’s really just about focusing on the process and each part of the point, each pass, set hit, just really focusing on the little things. And then because we did that we were able to come back and win that third set against Hamilton.”

Statistical leaders for the afternoon included Yarwood again, posting 10 kills in the match and Yu and senior libero Stephanie Lee recording 14 digs apiece. The rest of the outside and middle hitters recorded kills numbers close behind 10, reflecting the whole team offensive cohesion on display for the Jumbos.

Heading into another home weekend of competitive NESCAC play, Farragher said the team is focusing on its long-match resiliency.

“I think we’re mainly just focusing on staying consistent in the longer matches. And when something isn’t going exactly our way, finding ways to change our style of play.”

The Jumbos will host Colby on Friday night and Bates on Saturday afternoon.