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Volleyball team makes UAA Round Robin Debut

By Dani Chasin

Section: Sports

October 5, 2012

After showcasing their talent at their first University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin appearance of the season, the Brandeis women’s volleyball team endured three straight losses at the University of Chicago. On the first day, the Judges fell short to Case Western and Washington University, before losing to Rochester on the second day.

In their first game against Case Western, the Judges were able to keep a tight hold on the Spartans throughout the match. The tactical effort on the Spartans’ side to defuse the Judges’ attacking opportunities, however, allowed them to win three straight sets. Although the sets between the two teams were closely contested, the Spartans finished by margins of 25-18, 25-19 and 25-20, giving them a 3-0 win over the Judges.

The top players for the Judges in the round-robin opener include outside hitter Liz Hood ’15 and middle blockers Lauren Berens ’13 and Maddie Engeler ’16. Leading the Judges in scoring, Hood had a total of eight kills against the Spartans. Engeler and Berens contributed 10 kills and only had two errors in a combined 27 attempts. Also coming up big for the Judges, Elsie Bernaiche ’15 continued her match-high digs streak, recording 14 against the Spartans.

As a libero, Bernaiche explains, “I am the defensive player on the court at all times, and so my team depends on me to give a good pass and get the offense running. Also, I am one of the loudest players on the court, and I’m always talking and calling the ball, which is really important in putting together a good play.”

Despite constantly being on the court, Bernaiche is one of the key players in charge of keeping the momentum rolling for the Judges. When asked about the team’s performance last weekend in Chicago, she responded, “Unfortunately, our defense and offense just couldn’t connect this weekend, and it showed on the scoreboard.”

In Saturday’s second match against the Washington University Bears, the Judges faced some of the toughest competition of the season. The top-ranked Bears defeated the Judges in all three sets by scores of 25-10, 25-8, and 25-20, making the final score 3-0. After being down in the first two sets by a large margin, the Judges tried to close the gap in the third but were unable to outscore the Bears.

Leading the way for the Judges in the match against the Bears, Hood contributed on the attack while Bernaiche held down the defense. Hood scored seven kills, recording the highest kill effort for Brandeis in the match. Bernaiche recorded the team’s highest 14 digs, for her second-straight match of the day. Another standout player against the Bears was senior middle blocker Becca Fischer ’13, who had five blocks, just one shy of her season-high blocking record.

Junior outside hitter Si-Si Hensley ’14 said that Coach Michelle Kim does a great job of preparing her team for the tougher games, but added that much of the prepping for last weekend’s tournament stemmed from returning players who already knew the competition.

“The UAA has some of the best teams in the nation and us returning players tried our best to mentally prepare the new players about the type of competition they would see,” Hensley said. “I think after the MIT Invitational our team really tried to refocus so that we could do our best at UAAs.”

According to Hensley, the team’s struggle is due to their inconsistency and can be changed by focusing on their attitudes during play.

“I think once we can master our attitudes on the court, I think we will be a lot more successful against any team we may see,” she said.

The final game against the Rochester Yellowjackets was a near-win for the Judges. Snatching the first set with a score of 25-22, the Brandeis team was fired up and ready to dominate the game. Battling back-and-forth in the second set, the Yellowjackets were able to shut out the Judges with a score of 28-26. Losing their grip in the third set, the Judges fell behind with a score of 25-16. Unable to outscore the Yellowjackets in the fourth set, the Judges were defeated by a margin of 25-22. The final score of the game was 3-1.

The extended sets and high-scoring points allowed many of the Brandeis players to stand out against the Bears and elevate their weekend statistics. Hood scored 15 kills and seven errors on 33 attempts, recording a .242 hitting percentage, her best performance of the weekend. Junior outside hitter, Si-Si Hensley totaled nine kills and junior setter Yael Einhorn contributed a solid 29 assists.

Though the Judges were unable to outscore the other teams in the first round robin, they are set on moving forward with their season and preparing for the upcoming UAA matches.

Bernaiche, hopeful about the remainder of the season, confidently stated, “We can only hope to perform our hardest and give every game our best effort. Our next UAA showing will be much stronger now that we have seen the level of play at these tournaments this year.”

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