After a tight win against Williams earlier in this season, the No. 4-seeded Tufts women’s volleyball team wasn’t able to replicate their previous success on Friday in the NESCAC semifinals.
Senior libero Megan Harrison explained that the Jumbos understood that the Ephs were going to be a challenging opponent.
“I knew that it was going to be a tough game … because we went to five [sets] with them on senior night, so we were anticipating another pretty long battle with them,” Harrison said.
Williams had a strong showing, with a .287 hitting percentage, while Tufts’s hitting percentage was .183. Williams won all three sets against Tufts, largely due to their strong defense. Williams had 57 digs throughout the game.
The Ephs created a strong defense that the Jumbos struggled to get past, Harrison explained.
“There was nothing dropping on their side,” Harrison said. “[They’re] definitely a more frustrating team to play because you expect balls to be scoring, and when they keep getting them up it’s frustrating.”
Despite the tough loss, the Jumbos still scored well. Harrison noted that the Jumbos started most sets strong. This was especially true in the first set, where the Jumbos were able to start with an 11–6 lead. The Jumbos weren’t able to hold this lead, and the first set ended in a 20–25 victory for the Ephs.
“We started off every set attacking them, so we were up in the scores a lot which was good,” Harrison said.
The second set had a similar theme, with Tufts gaining a 9–7 lead in the beginning. Despite this, the Jumbos lost the second set, this time by a smaller margin of 22–25. In the third set, this theme of the Jumbos being unable to follow through to the end continued. The Jumbos started from behind and ended behind in a 25–19 loss in the third set. Williams’ victory was characterized by their ability to outlast Tufts, especially on defense, Harrison explained. Even though the Jumbos had the skills to beat the Ephs previously, the Ephs were able to play a stronger, more aggressive game than the Jumbos were able to handle on Friday.
“They were just outlasting us. They were super scrappy. They were giving it their all,” Harrison said.
This ended the Jumbos’ NESCAC tournament run, but the Jumbos will continue their post-season in the NCAA Tournament. The Jumbos will play Eastern University today in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Harrison explained that even though the Jumbos struggled against the Ephs, they have the skills and mindset to improve and finish the post-season strong.
“As a team, we need to keep it simple and also play aggressively,” Harrison said. “I think we were just a little bit timid against Williams and complacent with what they were doing to us. I think if we just focus on ourselves and how we play as Tufts, we’ll be a lot better than how we did last weekend.”
Harrison said the team was looking forward to the tournament, but acknowledged that it’s likely going to be challenging.
“We’re all really excited to get another chance,” Harrison said. “I think Eastern is going to be a challenging opponent; they’re not someone that we know very well, but once you get to that NCAA tournament, everyone’s very good.”