DANBURY, Conn. -- The Brandeis University volleyball team finished its opening tournament of the season, the Western Connecticut State University Invitational, with a 2-1 record. The Judges dropped a heartbreaker in their first match of the day against the hosts, falling 3-2 after a nice rally to force the fifth set. They bounced back immediately after with a 3-1 win over Worcester State, their second of the weekend. Brandeis senior setter Yael Einhorn (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) and junior outside hitter Liz Hood (Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque Acad.) both earned All-Tournament honors for their efforts.
In the first match against the host Colonials, the squads split the first two sets. WCSU won the opener, 25-20, while Brandeis took the second, 25-17. After the hosts took a 2-1 lead with 25-16 win in Set Three, the Judges rallied nicely for a 27-25 win to force a decisive fifth set. Western Conn. was able to fend off the visitors as a second-straight set went to extra points, eventually claiming a 16-14 win for the match.
Brandeis had a balanced attack, with four players registering at least seven kills. Hood led the way with 12 kills, but WCSU was also able to force her into an uncharacteristic 10 errors. Junior middle blocker Carly Gutner-Davis (Del Mar, Calf. / Canyon Crest Acad.) had 10 kills and added three service aces, while senior outside hitter Si-Si Hensley (Fullerton, Calif./Troy) added nine kills. Sophomore MB/RS Summer Koop (Long Valley, N.J. / West Morris Central) had a new career-high in kills with eight. Einhorn had her second-straight double-double with 36 assists and 17 digs, second on the team behind junior libero Elsie Bernaiche (Plantsville, Conn./Southington).
In the final match of the weekend, Brandeis overcame some fatigue following the five-setter and going against a team that hadn't yet played on the day, but coach Michelle Kim's squad prevailed, 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 25-15. Hood bounced back with 17kills and just eight errors in 44 chances for a .205 hitting percentage. Gutner-Davis added nine kills, while rookie Jessica Kaufman (Tucson, Ariz./Cienaga) and junior Shemira Pennyman (Meridan, Conn./Francis T. Maloney) contributing six each. Bernaiche had 28 digs, while Hood was credited with a career-high 23 digs. Einhorn finished with 35 assists.
Brandeis returns to action next weekend when they host their annual Invitational, with matches scheduled against Wesleyan, Wellesley, Tufts and Coast Guard.