Judges sweep Babson and Bates on Day One of Brandeis Invitational

Lauren Berens '13 (Photo by SportsPix)
Lauren Berens '13 (Photo by SportsPix)

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University volleyball team made quick work of local rival Babson College, 3-0, in the Judges' home opener tonight. Set scores were 25-18, 26-24, 25-19.

All three sets were close affairs, with the lead never getting bigger than seven at any point. The Judges were able to maintain control, with their largest deficit a four-point hole early in the first set a 9-5. The Beavers took advantage of three Brandeis errors and a kill by junior middle blocker Ashley Strangio (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side) to establish that lead, but a 5-1 run by the Judges knotted the set at 10-10.

The Beavers reclaimed a brief 13-12 lead on sophomore defensive specialist Jessica Millman's (Lincoln, R.I./Lincoln) kill, but the hosts answered with a key run, scoring eight of the next nine points. Sophomore setter Yael Einhorn (Mount Laurel, N.J./Cherry Hill East) served five of those points, and rookie outside hitter Liz Hood (Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque Acad.) had two kills, forcing a Babson timeout at 19-14. Junior middle blocker Lauren Berens (Boulder, Colo./Fairview) made it 20-14, but Babson scored three in a row to cut the deficit to 20-17. Another 5-1 run, highlighted by a nice tip by junior outside hitter Susan Sun (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough), closed out the first set for the hosts.

In the second set, neither team was able to pull away in the early going, with ties at 3-3 and 8-8. Brandeis finally looked to open the margin with kills by Berens, Sun and junior middle blocker Becca Fischer (San Antonio, Texas/Clark) that made the score 17-14, but Beaver sophomore outside hitter Christina Cervini (Shrewsbury, Mass./Worcester Acad.) kept the visitors alive with three kills of her own and a service ace that cut the lead to 17-16. A kill and an ace by Fischer got the lead back to 20-17, but her service error sparked a 4-1 run by Babson that gave them the lead, 22-21, on a kill by Millman.

Brandeis coach Michelle Kim called timeout, and Brandeis responded with a kill by Hood and a block by Berens to reclaim the lead. After Babson's Eric Neely called a TO of his own, Hood came out with a service error, while another Judge miscue gave the visitors set point at 24-23. A service error returned the serve to the Judges with a tie score, however, and kills by Fischer and Hood gave Brandeis the extra-time win, improving them to 1-2 on the season in sets that went to overtime.

Brandeis never trailed in the third set, scoring the first three points on Sun's serve. Babson got within one at 7-6 on a Cervini kill, but the Judges ripped off a 9-3 run, with four different players contributing kills, and they never looked back.

For the match, Hood led all players with 11 kills, while Berens was second on the Judges with six. Einhorn had 21 assists and converted four of her five attacks for an .800 hitting percentage. Rookie libero Elsie Bernaiche (Plantsville, Conn./Southington) had 12 digs to lead the Judges, while Berens, Fischer and Sun each had three blocks each.

Babson was paced by Cervini, who had nine kills and two service aces. Junior middle blocker Cathy Tinker (Woodbridge, Conn./Amity) had five kills. Junior setter Kathleen Lynch (Quincy, Mass./No. Quincy), while junior libero Karla Flores (San Juan, P.R./Academia Perpetuo Socorro) had 12 digs for the Beavers.

(Images from the Brandeis-Babson match will be available at http://www.sportspix.biz within the next week).

In the Judges' second match of the day, they defeated Bates College, 3-0, in a match in which they never trailed by more than two points. Set scores were 25-22, 25-14, 25-21.

After Brandeis scored the first three points of the match, the Bobcats responded with five in a row on the serve of junior libero Nicole Russell (Boca Raton, Fla./Pine Crest School). The Judges trailed, 6-4, when junior Lauren Berens got hot, scoring three of the set's next four points to give Brandeis an 8-6 edge. Brandeis eventually pushed the lead to 12-9 after Berens put another one away and Bates committed an error. Rookie middle blocker Hannah McGrath (Longmeadow, Mass./Longmeadow) snapped the momentum, and the visitors were able to string together four points on the serve of rookie setter Tess Walther (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica).

The Bobcats held the lead at 17-15 thanks to a pair of nice blocks by junior middle blocker Eliza Pyne (Atherton, Calif./Menlo School) and senior middle blocker Olivia Schow (Costa Mesa, Calif./Estancia), the Brandeis knotted the set at 18-18 on another Berens kill. Her seventh kill of the set gave the Judges the lead for good at 20-19, sparking a 4-0 run on the serve of sophomore Elsie Bernaiche, and Brandeis finally closed it out at 25-22 on a kill by senior Becca Fischer.

In the second and third sets, the Judges got off to quick starts, taking a 6-1 lead in the second and a 6-0 edge in the third. The second set featured an 8-0 run with junior right side Samantha Heller (Pelham, N.Y./The Masters School) serving and six kills by rookie Liz Hood, while rookie outside hitter Shemira Pennyman (Meriden, Conn./Francis T. Maloney) served the first six points of the third and Hood added five more kills. The Judges led by as many as seven points in the third. The Bobcats climbed to within three points late in the set at 24-21, but it was too little too late.

Hood led the Judges for the second match in a row with 11 kills, her third match of the season with double figures. Berens finished with seven kills, Fischer had six and Pennyman five. Berens also added three blocks (two solo). Bernaiche paced the defense with 19 digs while contributing three service aces.

Bates was paced by senior right side Chrissy Gee (San Francisco, Calif./Bay School), who had eight kills, including five in the third set as the Bobcats tried to come back. Russell had 21 digs, a match-high, while Pyne had two service aces.

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