WALTHAM, Mass. – The top-seeded Brandeis University
volleyball team earned a berth in the Eastern College Athletic
Conference (ECAC) Division III New England tournament championship
game today with a 31-29, 30-26, 30-11, win over No. 4 seed Keene
State College. The Judges will face No. 3 seed Colby-Sawyer College
in the championship match.
Brandeis (21-17) was tested in its first two games against Keene State (25-14) after opening up big leads. In game one, after the Judges opened up a 9-3 lead early, the teams traded points until the Owls went on a mini run to close within 21-19. Junior opposite Ashley Powers (Waltham, Mass.) served four straight points to give the hosts a 25-19 lead, but KSC answered with a 9-2 run to take a 28-27 advantage on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Brittany O'Bryant (Merrimack, N.H.). The Judges answered with blocks by sophomore setter Violette Ruggiero (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) and rookie middle blocker Piera Carfagno (Los Angeles, Calif.) to reach game point at 29-28, but Keene called a timeout and scored the next point to knot the game. Brandeis rallied with kills from Carfagno and sophomore outside hitter Lorraine Wingenbach (Buffalo, N.Y.) to close out game one, 31-29.
In game two, three early service aces from Carfagno expanded a 6-3 lead to 9-3. The Owls called timeout after a kill by rookie middle blocker Bridget McAllister (Santa Clara, Calif.), but weren't able to shift the momentum just yet as Brandeis went on to a 17-7 lead. The Owls started their comeback at that point, taking advantage of Brandeis errors and an offensive burst by rookie Abby Rosen (Andover, Conn.), who had three KSC kills in a row to cut the lead to 24-19. Keene State continued the run to score six of the next seven points, getting within 25-24 on a kill by junior Kelly Yankowski (Turners Falls, Mass.). Carfagno held the Owls at bay with a kill on the next point, and sophomore outside hitter Becca Schwartz (Newcastle, N.H.) served out the next match with a service ace to give Brandeis the 30-26 win.
Game three was much smoother for the Judges, as the forced a Keene timeout with the score 5-2 and came out scoring eight of the next nine, including seven in a row served by McAllister. A 10-point run on Schwartz's serve, including three kills in five points for Powers, put the Judges ahead 27-10 en route to the 30-11 final.