September 20, 2011

Volleyball suffers first home loss, 3-0, to unbeaten Tufts

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University volleyball suffered its first home loss of the season tonight, dropping three straight sets to unbeaten Tufts University. Set scores were 25-12, 25-21, 25-20, in favor of the Jumbos. With the loss, the Judges fall to 7-4 on the season, while Tufts moves to 6-0.

Tufts ran away with the first set, scoring seven straight points to extend an early 5-4 lead to 12-4 with rookie Kelly Brennan (Burr Ridge, Ill./Fenwick) picking up three kills and a block assist in the run. The Jumbos were ahead by nine, 16-7, when the hosts made a push, scoring four in a row on two Tufts errors and two kills by rookie outside hitter Liz Hood (Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque Acad.) that cut the Brandeis deficit to five at 16-11. Tufts stopped the Judges' momentum with a time out and went on to close the set on a 9-1 run.

The second set was a much tighter affair. Brandeis took an early 3-1 lead on a kill by junior middle blocker Becca Fischer (San Antonio, Texas/Clark). Tufts was able to score the next two points to knot the game at 3-3. They led by as many as four points at 11-7 on a block by junior Kiersten Ellefsen (Goshen, N.Y./Goshen) and rookie Isabel Kuhel (Brisbane, Calif./San Francisco Waldorf). Brandeis responded with five of the next six points, tying the set on back-to-back kills by Hood. The Judges were unable to maintain momentum, however, committing errors on four of the next six points to fall behind by four again at 17-13 on an ace by Jumbo senior Lexi Nicholas. Brandeis got back in the set, though, going on a 4-1 run that culminated in a nice kill by sophomore setter Yael Einhorn (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) to cut the lead to 19-18. Tufts was able to take advantage of a couple more Brandeis errors to reclaim momentum, closing the set on a 4-1 run, thanks to two kills by Brennan and a nice back-row attack by Ellefsen.

The third set followed a similar formula, with Tufts taking an early three-point lead at 7-4 but unable to pull away. Brandeis took a brief 9-8 lead on a Fischer kill, but the Jumbos scored three in a row. The went back ahead, 11-9, on a cross-court kill by Ellefsen. Down by an 18-14 score, the Judges rode three Fischer kills and a service ace by junior outside hitter Susan Sun (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) to tie the game at 19-19. Again, a Brandeis error cost the hosts momentum, and Tufts was able to close on a 6-1 run to close out the match.

Brandeis was led offensively by Hood, who had 10 kills, and Fischer, who had nine, including seven in the third set. Einhorn finished with 29 assists and 11 digs for her first double-double of the season. Defensively, rookie libero Elsie Bernaiche (Planstville, Conn./Southington) had a team-high 12 digs, while Fischer finished with three blocks (one solo). Sun had three service aces.

Ellefsen paced the Tufts attack with 12 kills while adding three block assists. Junior setter Kendall Lord (La Jolla, Calif./The Bishop's School) just missed a double-double with 33 assists and nine digs, as did Brennen, who had nine kills and 11 digs. Kuhel finished with four blocks (one solo) on the defensive end, whole senior libero Audrey Kuan (Los Altos, Calif./Castilleja) had 13 digs, a match-high.

Brandeis is next in action at the Amherst Classic against the host school on Friday evening, while Tufts hosts Endicott and Smith at the same time.

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