September 22, 2009

Volleyball bows to Tufts, 3-1

WALTHAM, Mass. - The Tufts University volleyball team won its seventh-straight match tonight as the Jumbos defeated host Brandeis University, 3-1, in Red Auerbach Arena. Tufts bounced back after dropping the first set, 25-12, to outlast the Judges in three tight sets, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21. With the win, the Jumbos improve to 7-1, while Brandeis falls to 8-4 on the season.

In the first set, Brandeis took advantage of 11 Tufts errors, including the first four points of the match. The Judges got six kills from junior outside hitter Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) and three service aces from senior defensive specialist Lauren Polinsky (White Plains, N.Y./Solomon Schecter). Four of the Jumbos' 12 points came from senior outside hitter Brogie Helgeson (Santa Cruz, Calif./Santa Catalina).

The second set was the first of three competitive affairs, as there were only two stretches of more than three points in a row scored by either team. Brandeis took a 3-1 lead after surrendering the first point of the set, while Tufts rattled off four in a row after trailing 10-9 to establish a 13-10 lead on a kill by sophomore middle blocker Lexi Nicholas (San Diego, Calif./Francis W. Parker). Brandeis battled back to tie the set at 18-18 on a Blasco kill and a Tufts error, but the Jumbos closed on a 7-4. Junior outside hitter Dawson Joyce-Mendive (Minden, Nev./Douglas) had six kills in the second, getting the Jumbos to set point, while junior middle blocker Caitlin Updike (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa) closed it out with a kill.

In the third, the Jumbos jumped out to an 8-3 lead, with four points coming on Judge miscues. Brandeis responded with a 12-4 run of their own, reclaiming the lead on a block and kill by junior middle blocker Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) and going ahead by three, 15-12, on a block by Blasco and rookie MB Becca Fischer (San Antonio, Texas/Clark). Tufts then scored six of the next seven points with two Helgeson kills and a Brandeis error putting the Jumbos on top, 18-16. Brandeis responded with three straight points of their own and were ahead 20-19 after a service return by rookie libero Anna Homitsky (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seneca Valley) found a hole in the tufts defense. The Jumbos bounced back quickly, winning six of the final eight points, closing the set out on a block by Joyce-Mendive, who had four kills in the set.

Once again in the fourth set, neither team was able to hold serve for long, with three points being the most served by any one player. Service errors were key, with the teams combining for 10 of them in the set. Unfortunately for the Judges, three of them came late in the set. Trailing 19-17, Blasco had a nice cross-court kill to side out for the Judges. Helgeson responded with a kill for the visitors. Although the Judges were able to side-outs on the next three Jumbo serves, they gave the ball right back on service errors, with Updike finally getting a kill for Tufts to close out the match.

Brandeis was paced by Paige Blasco, who had a match-high 17 kills, and Carfago, who had 12 kills and 12 digs. Smith hit for a fine .533 percentage (9 kills, 1 error, 15 attempts) and contributed three blocks. Junior setter Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) had 27 assists and 19 digs for her seventh double-double of the campaign.

Tufts was led by Helgeson, who finished with 14 kills, while Updike had 11. Sophomore libero Audrey Kuan (Los Altos, Calif./Casilleja) led the way defensively with 26 digs, while senior setter Dena Feiger (Long Grove, Ill./Adlai Stevenson) had 41 assists.

Brandeis is next in action this weekend at Amherst College for the Amherst Classic, while Tufts is at the MIT Tournament this weekend.

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