Volleyball kept its hot streak going on the road, grabbing two more NESCAC wins against Williams and Amherst. This successful weekend marked the team’s seventh straight in-conference win and put Tufts tied for first with Wesleyan in the NESCAC standings. In addition, due to her dominance in both matches, senior outside hitter Jennelle Yarwood earned NESCAC player of the week honors, the first Jumbo to get this accolade since last season.
On Friday, the Jumbos faced off against the Williams Ephs for a hard fought four set match (23–25, 25–13, 25–15, 25–22). The first set was a back-and-forth contest characterized by quick ball movement and aggressive offensive attacks from the Ephs. Yarwood described the team’s mentality coming off the first set loss and heading into the rest of the match.
“The Williams team has a really good team and has a lot of great hitters,” Yarwood said. “They're just running a good offense. And I think going into the second set, we really just found a lot of intensity and fight within ourselves, and just knew that we wanted to play our game.”
In the game against Williams, Yarwood tallied a remarkable season high 20 kills. She attributed her offensive success to her setters and good visualization of the court.
“The setters, [Zoey Gregory] and [Maddie Yu], were doing an excellent job getting the ball to me. I think I was able to find a lot of holes in the block wall and spots on the court that were open,” Yarwood said. “[Stephanie Lee], our libero was talking to me a lot about spots that were open. So I think it was just a combination of us being in system so the sets were there. And then kind of taking what they gave us with the block and the defense.”
Yarwood’s praise of her teammates was reflected on the scoresheet. Setters Maddie Yu, a junior, and Zoe Gregory, a first-year, recorded 36 and 11 assists for the night, respectively. Senior libero Stephanie Lee was a huge defensive asset, adding 23 digs to the board.
The Saturday contest against the Amherst Mammoths was a bit more tumultuous, with momentum drastically shifting between the two teams in each set (17–25, 25–15, 25–11, 11–25, 15–13). Ultimately the Jumbos came out on top, finding their rhythm and settling in for a fifth set victory.
“We talked about how we really just needed to kind of go back to channeling the same energy and fight that we had in the second and third sets,” Yarwood said. “We’ve really been focusing on coming out strong and consistent. So with the fifth sets, there's only 15 points. You’re pushing for the first five points and then pushing to earn a switch at eight. And so I think just focusing on one point at a time was really one of our main keys to success.”
Junior outside hitter Christine Audette was the kill leader for the afternoon, with 13 of her own. Yarwood was close behind with 11, also tallying her season high digs with 17. For the weekend, she totaled 31 kills and 25 digs. She leads Tufts on the NESCAC leaderboards, sitting fourth in the conference overall with 181 kills on the season.
The Jumbos will compete against a few high level out of conference opponents this weekend with Springfield on Friday night and both Babson and MIT Saturday afternoon.