Volleyball advances to championship round of Hall of Fame Invitational

AMHERST, Mass. -- The Brandeis University volleyball team won its first two matches at the Hall of Fame Invitational on Friday night, putting the Judges in tomorrow's championship bracket for the first time in school history. With the wins over Colby, 3-0, and host team Amherst, 3-2, coach Michelle Kim's team has clinched back-to-back 20-win seasons.

In the opener, Brandeis had little trouble with the Colby College Mules, sweeping by game scores of 30-13, 30-13, 30-20. Junior outside hitter Lorraine Wingenbach (Buffalo, N.Y.) led the way with 10 kills and a .474 hitting percentage, while rookie outside hitter Elizabeth Villalino (Kailua, Hawaii) added seven kills and swung for a .350 percentage. Rookie setter Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo.) had 34 assists and 12 digs, while junior libero Violette Ruggiero (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) led the way defensively with 14 digs.

In the second match, the Judges won the first two games against host school Amherst, but were unable to put the Lord Jeffs away until the fifth with game scores of 30-24, 32-30, 28-30, 29-31, 15-10. With the win, the Judges improved to 20-6 and avenged one of their six blemishes on the season. Blasco was outstanding, recording a career-high 62 assist while contributing 12 digs. Wingenbach paced the offense with 27 digs and a .220 hitting percentage, while sophomore middle blocker Piera Carfagno (Los Angeles, Calif.) had 21 kills and four blocks. Defensively, Ruggiero had a team-high 34 digs, while Wingenbach added 17.

In the semifinals, the Judges will play Williams College tomorrow at noon in a rematch of a 3-2 Brandeis victory earlier in the season. They will then face either the winner of loser of the other semifinal between MIT and Tufts at 4 p.m. in either the championship or third-place match.