WALTHAM, Mass. -- For the second day in a row at their Brandeis Invitational, the Brandeis volleyball team split a pair of matches. Playing in the Shapiro Gymnasium for the first time this season, the Judges fell to Tufts, 3-0, but bounced back to defeat Babson by the same score for the second time this season.
Against the Jumbos, Brandeis fell behind early in set one, 8-5, but rallied to knot the set at 9-9. The two teams stayed close until the Judges opened up a three-point lead of their own at 21-18. The margin stood at four, 23-19, on an Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) kill, but the visitors won the next three points to claw within one. After Brandeis coach Michelle Kim called a timeout, Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) followed with a kill to bring up set point at 24-22, but the Jumbos responded with kills on four of the next five points and taking the set on a Brandeis error. The Jumbos were able to take advantage of Brandeis errors in set two, and junior Caitlin Updike had six kills to lead the visitors to a 25-15 win. In the third set, tied at 8-8, Tufts went on to 6-1 run to claim a 14-9 lead and never looked back en route to a 25-18 victory.
Brandeis was paced by junior middle blocker Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) led the Judges against Tufts with seven kills and just one error in 14 attempts for a .429 hitting percentage. Paige Blasco added eight kills and nine digs to lead the team in both categories, tying with senior Bridget McAllister (Santa Clara, Calif./Presentation) in digs. Rookie middle blocker Becca Fischer (San Antonio, Texas/Clark) added five blocks (one solo).
The Judges responded against Babson with a 25-20, 25-9, 25-20, victory. They took advantage of Beaver errors to win despite a .128 team hitting percentage. Brandeis was able to overcome 15 hitting errors by recording nine team blocks and nine service aces.
McAllister led the squad with seven kills, while Paige Blasco had 12 digs. Fischer and senior Piera Carfagno (Los Angeles, Calif./Campbell Hall School) each had five blocks, while Abby Blasco had 21 assists.
For her efforts in the tournament, Smith earned All-Tournament honors. She had 27 kills, tied for third-most on the squad, but led the way with a terrific .440 hitting percentage (27 kills, five errors, 50 attempts). Smith also contributed 12 blocks (two solo).