Volleyball can't get past UMass Boston, 3-1, in Judges Classic opener

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis volleyball team dropped the opener of the 2010 Judges Classic, 3-1, to UMass Boston tonight in Auerbach Arena. Set scores were 25-15, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19. The loss drops the Judges to 13-15 on the season, while the Beacons, who sit just outside of the AVCA Division III Top 25, improve to 24-2.

Brandeis came out sluggish in the first set, falling behind 5-1 early, and were unable to recover as they fell, 25-15. The second set was a dramatic affair, as the Judges raced out to a 5-1 lead, but the Beacons rallied to tie it at 9-9. Neither team was able to reestablish any momentum, as the lead was never greater than two points until the end of the set. Trailing 19-17, the Judges scored five in a row, four of which came on UMB errors, to go ahead, 21-19. The Beacons evened the score again at 21-21, but kills by sophomore opposite Lauren Berens (Boulder, Colo./Fairview) and senior setter Abby Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Academy) keyed a 4-1 run to take the set and even the match at one set apiece.

      The third set was an equally back-and-forth affair. Neither team was able to establish a rhythm, and Umass Boston took a 21-20 lead after a timeout on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark). Brandeis senior Paige Blasco (Greeley, Colo./Frontier Acad.) put the Judges on her back for a stretch, getting kills on three straight points and forcing the Beacons to take a timeout trailing, 23-21. UMB responded to coach Terry Condon in the break, going on to score five of the last six points of the set. Rookie outside hitter Corrine Porter (Landera Ranch, Calif./Tesoro) and sophomore middle hitter Alexa Sullivan (South Dennis, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth Regional) had kills in the stretch and combined to block the winning point. After Brandeis got off to a 7-2 lead in the fourth set, UMass battled back to take their first lead at 18-17 and went on to close out the match on an 8-2 run.

Brandeis was paced by Paige Blasco, who had 17 kills for the Judges with just four errors in 44 attempts for a .295 hitting percentage. Abby Blasco finished with 31 assists and 11 digs, tied with sophomore libero Susan Sun (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough Regional) for team-high. Senior Nicole Smith (Marietta, Ga./Alan C. Pope) and sophomore Becca Fischer (San Antonio, Texas/Clark) tied for team-high honors at the net with four blocks each. Fischer had three solo blocks, Smith had one.

NCAA DIVISION III VOLLEYBALL
Judges Classic at Waltham, Mass. (Brandeis University)

DAY 1
UMass Boston 3, Brandeis 1 (25-15, 22-25, 26-24, 19-25)
Tufts 3, Clarkson 1 (2515, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21)

DAY 2 Schedule
12 noon
Brandeis vs. Tufts
UMass Boston vs. Clarkson

2 p.m.
Brandeis vs. Clarkson
Tufts vs. UMass Boston