Volleyball earns second seed in 2009 ECAC tournament

WALTHAM, Mass. - For the third time in the last four seasons, the Brandeis University volleyball team has earned a berth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England championship tournament. The Judges, who earned the second seed in the tournament, will take on seventh-seeded Colby-Sawyer College on Wednesday Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.

Under sixth-year head coach Michelle Kim, Brandeis (18-16) finished the regular season sixth in the University Athletic Association (UAA), but went 16-7 in non-conference play. The Judges are paced by junior twin sisters Paige and Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.). Paige, an outside hitter, led Brandeis with a 3.41 kills-per-set average, ranking her third in the UAA, while Abby, a setter, averaged 8.91 assists per set, fourth in the conference. The Judges also boast an impressive net game, as junior middle blocker Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) led the UAA in  blocks, averaging 1.16 blocks per set, which ranked her 29th in the nation in the most recent NCAA Division III statistical rankings. Brandeis faced two other ECAC teams this season with a 2-0 record, defeating Endicott and Coast Guard.

Colby-Sawyer College carries a 19-13 record into ECAC tournament, 8-2 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Chargers finished third in the TCCC. Junior outside hitter Michelle Doody led the conference with 4.26 kills per set, while senior setter Genny Moore topped the circuit with 9.38 assists per set. The Chargers were 1-6 against opponents in the ECAC field, defeating Johnson & Wales in their season opener, but dropping their next six, including four to conference opponents.

Brandeis has won all previous seven meetings with Colby-Sawyer, including in the ECAC title match in 2006 and in the tournament semifinals in 2007. The Judges won back-to-back ECAC crowns in those seasons.

The other first-round match-ups to take place on Wednesday evening include top-seeded Plymouth State University hosting No. 8 Emmanuel College; the third-seeded U.S. Coast Guard Academy taking on No. 6 Johnson and Wales University; and No. 4 Western New England College facing No. 5 Endicott College. The semifinals and finals will be played at the highest remaining seed on Nov. 14.