Volleyball rallies but can't complete comeback in five-set loss to Rochester

Brandeis will be the seventh seed at the upcoming UAA championships (photo by Jan Volk)
Brandeis will be the seventh seed at the upcoming UAA championships (photo by Jan Volk)

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Brandeis University volleyball team struggled for two sets but rallied to force a fifth before falling just short against the University of Rochester in the seventh-place match at the 2013 University Athletic Association tournament today. UR won the first two sets, 25-14, 25-12, before the Judges rallied with 25-19 and 25-23 win in the third and fourth. In the final set, it was a 15-11 edge to the visitors. Brandeis ends its season with a 10-25 record, while Rochester closes at 9-27.

The Judges' offense struggled in the first two sets, with their only lead in that span coming after they scored the first point of the match. In the first two sets, Brandeis made five more attack errors than kills as they fell behind.

The third set was completely different, as the home team had 16 kills and just three errors in 28 attempts for a .464 team hitting percentage.  Trailing by a 12-8 score after a service error, the Judges went on a tear, scoring 11 of the next 13 points to take a 19-14 lead. Junior outside hitter Liz Hood (Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque Acad.) had five kills in the key run, while five other players contributed points with kills or service aces. Hood ended up with seven kills total in the set.

In the fourth set, Rochester again took an early lead, going up 8-4, following a Brandeis error. The Judges answered with three in a row to get back within one, but UR held them off, as an Alexandra Goldman kill and a Brandeis error put the visitors back ahead, 13-10. Hood stopped the bleeding with a kill, with a UR error getting the Judges back within one. A Si-Si Hensley (Fullerton, Calif./Troy) kill and Carly Gutner-Davis (Del Mar, Calif./Canyon Crest Acad.) service ace gave the Judges a 14-13 lead. Neither team was able to string together more than two points in a row over the next 18 points. A service ace by the Yellowjackets' Ashley Hunter gave the visitors a 23-22 lead, prompting Brandeis coach Michelle Kim to call timeout. Hood came out firing, as sophomore Maggie Swenson (East Lyme, Conn./East Lyme) fed her for three-straight kills to give Brandeis the come-from-behind win, 25-23.

Unfortunately for the Judges in the fifth set, Rochester got off to a quick start, scoring the first three points and six of the first eight. Brandeis could never overcome the four-point deficit, getting as close as two points a couple of times before ultimately falling, 15-11.

For the match, Hood led all players with 17 kills, while Hensley added 12, including a team-high .267 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Summer Koop (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) added eight kills for a .250 percentage and team-high three blocks. Swenson had 40 assists and three service aces, while junior libero Elsie Bernaiche (Plantsville, Conn./Southington) had 21 digs. Hensley and Hood had 16 and 11 digs, respectively, to record double-doubles.

Rochester's Savannah Benton led the Yellowjackets with 11 kills, while Jennie Ford had nine. Goldman had a match-high .556 hitting percentage with five kills in nine attempts without an error. Meghan Connor led all players on defense with 22 digs.