Volleyball finishes 2-1 at Amherst Classic

Volleyball finishes 2-1 at Amherst Classic

AMHERST, MA (courtesy Amherst College sports information) – The Brandeis volleyball team went to five sets for the second time this season against host Amherst College, but the Judges were unable to pull out the victory, falling 3-2, to the Lord Jeffs. Set scores were 25-14, 17-25, 25-15, 19-25, 15-7 in the opening round of the Amherst Classic. The Judges bounced back, however, to sweep Westfield State (25-17, 26-24, 25-14) and earn a tie for first place in the tournament by topping Middlebury, 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 15-12).

On Friday night, the Judges opened the tournament against Amherst. Junior Erin Camp (Santa Monica, Calif.) gave Amherst some early breathing room with back-to-back service aces and the Lord Jeffs never looked back, leading wire-to-wire in the first set. The hosts got exceptional defense from senior Bethany Belisle (Austin, Texas) and closed out the opening set on an 8-1 run, with sophomore Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, Calif.) providing the winning kill.

Brandeis jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set on a kill from junior Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.), but Amherst’s Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) put the Jeffs on the board with a powerful kill of her own from the right side. The Judges answered with a 6-0 run and never let the Jeffs creep to within fewer than six points, as senior co-captain Piera Carfagno (Los Angeles, Calif./Campbell Hall School) closed out the second set with a service ace.

The third set featured four ties and three lead changes in the early going, but Amherst went on an 11-point rampage to take a commanding 20-9 lead en route to its 25-15 win. Brandeis came right back in the fourth set by winning the first four points and never looking back despite a late push from the Jeffs. Amherst had gathered significant momentum late in the frame and trailed by only four, but a key block from the Judges’ Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) handed the serve back to Brandeis and set up the 25-19 victory.

Amherst dominated the deciding set and was provided with a huge spark on a towering kill from junior Laura Hyman (Glencoe, Ill.), as the Jeffs sealed the match with a 15-7 fifth-set win.

The Judges were led by 23 kills from Blasco, with Carfagno chipping in with nine kills. Junior Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) had 40 assists and first-year libero Anna Homitsky (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seneca Valley) totaled 14 digs. Brandeis struggled from the service line all night, committing 14 service errors in the loss.

Sophomore Katherine Kanoff (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) led Amherst with 17 kills and 10 digs, while Meier added 14 kills. Junior Katherine Jordan (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) had 42 assists, Belisle and Camp finished with 15 digs and 13 digs, respectively, and Berkley and Hyman each had four blocks. Hyman also added six kills on the night.

Brandeis opened the second day of the tournament against Westfield State, a squad they had defeated earlier this season. The Judges were able to top the Owls again in three sets, 25-17, 26-24, 25-14. Paige Blasco led the charge with 20 kills and a .400 hitting percentage (20 kills, four errors, 40 attempts). Smith hit for a season-best .800 percentage with eight kills in 10 attempts without an error. Abby Blasco distributed 36 assists and led the team to a .343 hitting percentage, including .640 in the first set (18 kills, two errors, 25 attempts).

After Middlebury defeated Amherst at the same time as the Judges were playing Westfield, Brandeis met the Panthers for a chance to force a three-way tie atop the standings at 2-1. After dropping the first set, 21-25, Brandeis rallied to win the next two, 25-17, 25-20. Middlebury responded, handing the Judges a 19-25 setback in the third set, but Brandeis answered with a 15-12 win in the fifth set to pick up their first five-set win of the season.

Paige Blasco topped the squad for the third time in the tournament by registering 20 kills. She hit for a .254 percentagte (20 kills, 4 assists, 63 attempts), while senior Bridget McAllister (Santa Clara, Calif./Presentation) added 12 kills and 12 digs for her first double-double of the season. She also contributed two solo blocks. Smith had another efficient performance with nine kills and no errors in 20 attempts for a .450 percentage. She also added four block assists. Paige Blasco distributed 49 assists and led the team defensively with 22 digs.

The Judges are next in action in UAA play when they head to the University of Rochester for the first of two Round Robins. The will take on Washington University, Case Western Reserve and host Rochester.