Volleyball rallies for 3-2 win over Endicott

WALTHAM, Mass. – For the second time this season, the Brandeis volleyball team rallied from two sets down to win, as the Judges defeated Endicott College, 3-2, in Red Auerbach Arena. Four of the five sets were decided by two points, as the hosts hung on for a 24-26, 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 15-13 victory.

Brandeis (8-2) opened just about every set strongly, but Endicott (7-2) was able to rally in each of the first two. The Judges were ahead 5-2 early in the first thanks to three early kills by senior outside hitter Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.), but the Gulls rallied, scoring 11 of the next 13 points to claim a 13-7 lead on a kill by senior outside hitter Brittany Phillips (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury). Brandeis eventually rallied to tie the set at 21-21 on a tip kill by rookie setter Yael Einhorn (Cherry Hills, N.J./Cherry Hill East). The teams traded the next six points to 24-24 before a pair of Brandeis errors gave the visitors the first set, 26-24.

In the second set, the Judges went ahead, 9-4, after a tip by rookie outside hitter Si-Si Hensley (Fullerton, Calif./Troy). The Gulls cut the lead to 9-8 on an Ally Murphy (Gilford, N.H./Gilford) service ace, but Brandeis held off the charge and eventually took a 20-14 lead on a kill by sophomore opposite Lauren Berens (Boulder, Colo./Fairview). Endicott head coach Tim Byram called a timeout at that point, and the visitors responded, closing on an 11-3 run that featured two more aces from Murphy and concluded with two Phillips kills to give them a 25-23 set and a 2-0 lead.

After the Judges raced out to a 7-1 lead in the third set off an Endicott error, the Gulls responded once again with a 9-2 streak of their own. Two kills by sophomore Falyn Torelli (Pelham, N.Y./Pelham) cut the lead to one, and two more by Phillips gave the visitors a 10-9 lead. Brandeis answered with 11 of the next 16 points, with senior middle blocker Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) contributing three kills, a block assist and a service ace as the Judges took a 20-15 lead that they did not relinquish. Another Smith kill wrapped up the set, 25-23, giving the Judges life.

Set four saw Endicott establish an 8-6 lead after senior Amy Grigg's (Vernon, Conn./Rockville) solo block, but a Gull service error started an 8-0 run that made the lead 14-8, Judges. They eventually went ahead, 22-10, as Smith had three kills and four blocks, including two solo, to help the hosts win, 25-14, and knot the match at 2-2.

In the fifth and decisive set, Brandeis again raced out to the lead, 8-3, including four in a row on the serve of senior Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.). Abby also had two kills in the decisive set, while twin sister Paige had five for a third of the team's points, including the match-clinching tip.

For the match, Paige Blasco led all players with 23 kills, while Smith added 15 for the Judges. Smith also had four blocks (two solo) and three service aces. For Endicott, Phillips finished with 16 kills, while Torelli had nine. Phillips also led the Gulls with 25 digs for the double-double, while Murphy had 20 digs and a team-high three service aces.

Brandeis is off until next Tuesday, when they travel to Tufts, the top-ranked team in New England. Endicott heads to UMass Boston on Thursday evening.