Volleyball falls to top team in New England, Tufts, 3-0

MEDFORD, Mass. (courtesy Tufts Univ. sports info) -- The Brandeis University volleyball team gave host Tufts all it could handle in the first two sets tonight, but the Jumbos, the top-ranked team in New England ultimately prevailed, 3-0. Tufts won by scores of 26-24, 25-22 and 25-18.

In a hard-fought battle, the Jumbos picked up their sixth straight win to go to 6-2 for the season while the Judges suffered just their third defeat to fall to 8-3.

The first set was the closest of the match as it saw 13 ties and four lead changes. Tufts built a four-point advantage at 14-10 before Brandeis battled back to take a 19-17 lead. The Jumbos tallied two straight to tie the set at 19 and then there were ties at 20, 23 and 24 before Tufts finished the set off, 26-24.

In the second set, Tufts jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Brandeis stayed resilient and came back to hold leads of 7-6, 9-7 and 12-10. The Judges scored four straight before Senior Caitlin Updike's (Manhattan Beach, CA) kill stopped the streak. The lead would then change hands three more times before Tufts took control of the second set. Back-to-back aces reestablished a three-point lead for the Jumbos, but again the Judges came back to tie the score, this time at 22.  Tufts answered with three consecutive points to hold Brandeis off to pick up the second set win, 25-22.

The third set began with ties at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3. Brandeis held just two leads during the final set, with the largest advantage being at 10-8. Using a block and and a pair of aces, the Jumbos took a 14-10 lead. There ended up being seven ties in the set as Brandeis would not go quietly, forcing stalemates at 15-15 and 16-16, but the Jumbos as they scored nine of the final 11 points to take the match, 25-18.

For Brandeis, senior Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) led the way for the Judges with nine kills, while sophomore Susan Sun (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) accumulated 14 digs. Senior captain Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad,) finished with 17 assists. Senior Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) chipped in with a team-high four blocks.

Senior Caitlin Updike's (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) match-high 19 kills helped bring the Jumbos to their sixth straight win. She also added a team-high 12 digs. Sophomore Kendall Lord (La Jolla, Calif..) added a match-high 33 assists, while senior Natalie Shrodes (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) had a good night with seven kills, one ace and just one error in 25 attempts.

The Judges return to action this weekend at the Amherst Classic against the hosts on Friday night, their fourth NESCAC opponent of the season.