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Volleyball drops both games at UAAs; earn top seed in ECAC tournament

By Brian Tabakin

Section: Sports

November 9, 2012

The Brandeis volleyball team lost both of its matches at the University Athletic Association tournament at Emory University Nov. 2, finishing in seventh place. In the quarter-finals, the Judges lost 3-0 in straight sets, 25-18, 25-13 and 25-21, to 16th-ranked and second-seeded University of Chicago.

In the semifinals of the consolation bracket, the Judges fell to sixth-seeded Rochester in straight sets: 25-17, 25-19 and 25-21. Since NYU dropped out of the tournament, due to Hurricane Sandy, there was no seventh place match. The Judges, therefore, will finish the season with a record of 19-13 (1-8 UAA). While their 1-8 in-conference record is marginally better than the 0-10 mark from last year, the team’s inability to compete in their own conference has become a disturbing pattern heading into the postseason.

The tournament’s opening match against the Chicago Maroons illustrated this problem. Not only did the Judges lose in straight sets, they never even led an individual set. The closest lead they came to was a 3-3 tie in the first set.

In the second set, the Judges were able to pull within two points after a kill by Lauren Berens ’13, but Chicago immediately answered with a 6-1 run to take control of the set. In the third and final set, the Judges once again fell in an early hole, 5-1; however, the Judges scrapped and clawed their way back into the set and a kill from Becca Fischer late in the set cut the Maroons lead to 23-21. Unfortunately, Chicago regrouped and subsequently closed out the match winning the next two points.

Liz Hood ’15 had 10 kills, leading all players, while Berens finished with eight kills against one error in 18 attempts for a .389 hitting percentage. Setter Yael Einhorn ’14 posted her ninth double-double of the season with 24 assists and 11 digs, while Elsie Bernaiche ’15 led the team with 18 digs.

It looked like Brandeis would be able to salvage their tournament, however, with a win in the consolation round against the Rochester Yellowjackets. After taking an early 5-2 lead in the first set, the Judges appeared to be pulling away; however, Rochester rallied to tie the set at 7-7 and then tied it again at 10-10. Rochester then scored four of the next five points to make the score 14-11, a lead that they would never give up as they finished the set on a 15-7 run.

The Judges never sniffed a lead in the second set as the Yellowjackets led the set from start to finish. In the third set, the Judges once again fell behind early-on by scores of 3-1 and 5-2; however, they were able to claw back and tie the game at 7-7 before Rochester went on a 7-3 run to take control of the set. The Judges tried to make a final push, pulling within one point at 20-19, but the Yellowjackets turned back the Judges’ efforts and closed the match with a 5-2 run.

With eight kills Hood tied for team honors with Si-Si Hensley ’14. Hensley also led the Judges with 13 digs, while Einhorn collected her second double-double of the tournament and 10th of the season with 27 assists and 10 digs.

Throughout the season the Judges had stressed the importance of mental toughness and offensive execution; however, on too many occasions this season, the Judges folded under adversity and failed to execute their offensive sets.

On the bright side, the Judges managed to return to the New England Division III ECAC tournament for the first time since 2009, grabbing the top overall seed.

The Judges were supposed to open the tournament on Wednesday; yet, the snow and messy weather caused the tournament opener to be delayed to Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The Judges will face eighth-seeded Albertus Magnus, 12-12 on the season, for the first time. The semi-finals and finals will be hosted by the highest remaining seed so if the Judges keep advancing, all games will be played on their home court.

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