Volleyball splits on Day Two of Amherst Classic

AMHERST, Mass. -- The Brandeis volleyball team (9-5) wrapped up play at the 2010 Amherst College Classic today with a split against Middlebury and Coast Guard. The Judges, ranked sixth in New England, downed the 10th-ranked Panthers, 3-2, but were unable to bounce back in their second match against the 11th-ranked Bears, suffering a 3-1 loss despite three sets that went down to the wire.

Against Middlebury (8-3), the Judges jumped out to a 2-0 lead with wins of 25-22 and 25-19. The Panthers bounced back with 25-14 and 25-19 wins in the next two sets, but Brandeis closed out the match with a 15-9 win in the fifth, improving to 3-0 on the season in matches that have gone the distance. Senior outside hitter Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) recorded her fifth double-double of the season with team-highs of 17 kills and 17 digs. Classmate Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) added 11 kills at a .357 hitting percentage and contributed a career-high 16 blocks (five solo). Paige's twin sister, setter Abby Blasco just missed a double-double of her own with 35 assists and nine digs. She also had seven block assists, also a career-high.

After the marathon five-setter, the Judges ran out of steam against Coast Guard (11-4), with all three of their lost sets decided late by just two points. Final scores were 24-26, 25-13, 25-27, 23-25. Paige Blasco led the way again, with 18 kills, 12 digs and two service aces. Rookie outside hitter Si-Si Hensley (Fullerton, Calif./Troy) added a career-high with 16 kills while added 13 digs for her first double-double of the campaign. Smith had 12 kills and seven blocks (three solo), while rookie defensive specialist Yael Einhorn (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) tied her career-best with four service aces.

The Judges return to action next weekend when they open up University Athletic Association play in Atlanta at Emory University. Brandeis will face defending national champions and top-ranked Washington University in their first conference match on Oct. 2, with showdowns against Rochester and Chicago also on tap.