Volleyball drops two at second UAA Round Robin

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University volleyball suffered a pair of losses in today's second University Athletic Association Round Robin. Playing in Shapiro Gymnasium instead of their usual home in Auerbach Arena, the Judges fell to Case Western Reserve, 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 25-19), to open the day, before suffering a 3-0 defeat (25-20, 25-21, 25-15) at the hands of 23rd-ranked NYU in their second match.

The Judges dropped their first two sets to Case, who is coached by Brandeis alumna Karen Chambers Farrell '93, 25-18 and 25-21. In the second, Brandeis led, 8-5, before the Spartans went on a 9-2 run that gave them the lead at 14-10. They were still ahead, 19-15, when four in a row by the Judges knotted the set, 19-19, on a kill by senior outside hitter Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.). The teams traded points to get to 20-20, but the visitors scored five of the last six points to go up two sets to none.

In the back-and-forth third set, it was a 7-0 run on the serve of rookie outside hitter Si-Si Hensley (Fullerton, Calif./Troy) that turned a 17-15 deficit into a 22-17 lead that the Judges were able to close out, 25-22, as Blasco recorded kills on three of the set's last four points. The Spartans bounced back, however, to finish off the fourth set, 25-19.

Against rival NYU, Brandeis pushed the Violets in the first two sets, 25-20, 25-21. The first half of the first set was tight, with neither side gaining momentum and the score knotted at 13-13. At that point, NYU went on an 8-1 run, taking a 21-14 lead. Violet sophomore Sally Downs (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) had a pair of key service aces in a 5-0 run, and after a tip kill by Brandeis rookie Yael Einhorn (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East), the visitors scored three more in a row, helped by two Brandeis errors.

Brandeis got off to a fast start in the second set against NYU, scoring the first seven points on the serve – including three aces - of senior Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.), who was playing libero. The Violets were able to get strong serving of their own. An ace by junior setter Mina Baban (Westborough, Mass./Westborough) tied the set at 13-13, and a Brandeis error gave NYU their first lead of the set.

The Violets went on to take a 17-15 lead before Brandeis's blocking went on a tear. A 5-0 run included three Brandeis blocks, with senior middle blocker Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) – second on the Judges's career blocks list - involved in three of them. Sophomore Susan Sun (Acton, Mass/Acton-Boxborough) was involved in two of Smith's blocks and Paige Blasco in another. The last pushed the Brandeis lead to 20-18, forcing Violet coach Chris Pinto to call time out.

Out of the timeout, Brandeis was called for a controversial error call, giving the visitors a sideout. A kill by NYU rookie Erin McLaughlin (Mountain View, Calif./Castilleja) to tie the set was answered by Smith, and the Judges led, 21-20. Unfortunately, Brandeis gave the ball right back on a service error, and NYU's McLaughlin served out the set, 25-21.

The Violets got off to a hot start in the third set, opening up an early 8-1 lead. They extended it to as many as 11 points at 15-4, and the Judges were unable to overcome the deficit.

In other key UAA matches today, in a battle of the American Volleyball Coaches Association's top two teams in the nation, top-ranked Washington University rallied to topple No. 2 Emory, 3-2 (25-22, 18-25, 17-25, 25-21, 15-6). NYU blasted Chicago, 3-0, in another meeting of top-25 teams, with the No. 23 Violets taking a 25-18, 25-22, 25-14 decision from the No. 17 Maroons. Chicago almost went down twice today, but they overcame a two-set deficit to defeat Farrell's Case Western Reserve team, 23-25, 13-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-11. The Maroons overcame a 10-7 deficit to win the decisive fifth set.

Tomorrow, Brandeis will take on Emory University at 10 a.m. and Carnegie Mellon at 2 p.m.