October 29, 2011

Volleyball falls to UMass Boston, 3-0, in home finale

WALTHAM, Mass. – In their final regular-season home match of the 2011 season, the Brandeis University volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision to visiting UMass Boston, the No. 18 team in the nation. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-19, in favor of the Beacons.

Brandeis hung with UMB in the early going of the first set. Neither team was able to string together more than two consecutive points in the opening stages. The Beacons took a 10-8 lead on a service aces by junior setter Frana Burtness-Adams (Fairbanks, Alaska/Austin E. Lathrop), but the Judges answered with six of the next eight points of the match. Thanks to a pair of kills by rookie outside hitter Liz Hood (Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque Acad.) and service aces by sophomore setter Yael Einhorn (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) and junior outside hitter Susan Sun (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough), the Judges owned a 14-12 lead, their largest of the entire match.

A Brandeis error halted the momentum, and the Beacons were able to take advantage as the visitors went on a 9-2 run of their own. Two kills each from sophomore outside hitter Corrine Porter (Huntingdon Beach, Calif./Pacifica Tesoro) and rookie middle hitter Kirsten Morrison (No. Reading, Mass./No. Reading) highlighted the run that gave UMB a 21-16 lead. The teams traded the next five points before senior middle hitter Molly Ratigan (Dorchester, Mass./Fontbonne Acad.) closed the set out with back-to-back kills.

UMass Boston asserted themselves in the next two sets, as they never trailed. The Beacons opened up early leads of 8-4 in the second set and 8-3 in the third. The Judges closed to within 10-9 in the second set, but two straight kills by junior middle hitter Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark) halted the momentum as the visitors closed the second on a 15-5 run. In the third set, after trailing by as many as seven, 16-9, after a timeout, the Judges were able to close within four on a few occasions but could not get over the hump.

Offensively, Brandeis was led by Hood, who totaled 11 kills, her 15th match in double digits this season. Sophomore outside hitter Si-Si Hensley (Fullerton, Calif./Troy) added eight kills and hit at a .368 clip (8 K-1 E-19 TA). Hensley also topped the squad with 12 digs, her sixth match of the season with at least 10. Einhorn contributed 22 assists.

UMass Boston was paced by Thompson, who finished with 18 kills, including eight in the third set alone. Ratigan had eight kills and four block assists. Senior setter Cassy Hanneman (Denver, Colo./Arapahoe) had 33 assists, while junior libero Kayla Wilson (San Jose, Calif./Presentation) had 16 digs.

The Judges fall to 9-18 headed into next weekend's University Athletic Association tournament, while the Beacons improve to 24-4 and await the Little East Conference tournament.