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Volleyball closes out the season with a second place finish at ECACS

By Dani Chasin

Section: Sports

November 16, 2012

The women’s volleyball team went 2-1 at the ECAC tournament this past weekend and finished off their season with a record of 21-14. Forecasted to be one the top-ranked teams of the competition, the Judges walked away with a second-place trophy and two more victories to achieve an over 20-win season, a feat they hadn’t accomplished since 2007.

Playing three matches over two days, the Judges defeated Albertus Magnus on Friday and Salve Regina in the first match on Saturday, only falling to Western New England in the championship. The Brandeis team took the first two games in three-straight sets and lost in the final by a score of 3-1.

In the first match against Albertus Magnus, the Judges crushed the Falcons by wide margins in all three sets. Coming out strong in the first set, the Judges managed an easy 25-9 score as six different players recorded at least two kills. The second set saw an attempt by the Falcons to battle back as they gained a quick lead; however, the Judges swiftly recovered to win the set 13-25. The third set continued similarly as the Falcons tried to gain momentum, but the dominance of the Judges was just too powerful to overcome, resulting in a 12-25 score.

The high-scoring match allowed several Brandeis players to record first-rate statistics. Outside hitter Liz Hood ’15 nailed 16 kills and noted a season-high .652 hitting percentage, while classmate middle blocker Carly Gutner-Davis ’15 added four service aces and one kill in the second set. Setter Yael Einhorn ’14 contributed 36 assists and teammate outside hitter Si-Si Hensley ’14 led the team with 10 digs. Overall, the Judges recorded a season-high .487 hitting percentage for the match against the Falcons who hold a 12-13 game record.

Hood credited Coach Michelle Kim for the team’s success this season.

“At the beginning of the season, I was not expecting to make it as far as we did, since last year we didn’t even make ECACs,” Hood said. “This year Coach Kim did everything she could to help us in any way possible. She helped us improve tremendously on our attitudes on the court, which greatly improved our play.”

In the semifinal match of the ECAC tournament, the Judges saw a more even match against the Salve Regina Seahawks. Although they were able to take the opponent in all three sets; the Judges barely managed a lead throughout the game. Finishing the first set with a score of 17-25, the Judges squeaked by in the second with a 25-23 win. The Seahawks, nearly breaking the Judges’ momentum, relentlessly tried to rebound in the third set, but the Judges responded with a 25-20 leading end-score.

Going into the championship match against the Western New England Golden Bears, the Judges were facing their toughest competition, who held a record of 25-7. Coming out aggressively in the first set, the Golden Bears managed to take a quick lead against the Judges with a score of 16-25. Unwilling to accept defeat in the second set, the Judges put on an offensive rally with kills from eight different players to win 25-17. The crucial third set was met with a back-and-forth battle between the Judges and Golden Bears, but the tactical effort on the WNE side proved to get the best of the Judges’ scoring opportunities, resulting in a 25-17 score. Unable to overcome the Golden Bears’ intensity, the Judges made one last attempt to bounce back in the fourth set, but lost by a margin of 25-21.

For the Brandeis seniors, Berens, Becca Fischer and Susan Sun, the ECAC tournament was the last time they would play with their teammates for the season. Reflecting back on her team’s performance, Berens commented, “I hoped we would win all three games and I knew we could, it was just a matter of knowing how we would play over the weekend. The last team we played, (WNE) gave our team the biggest challenge because we were most evenly matched. They had some really great blockers and a solid defense that made it harder for us to earn our own points.”

As for Kim, the biggest accomplishment of the season was seeing her players come together and improve their chemistry on and off the court. Even though the team proved to be a dominating force, she says that winning was not the most important aspect of the season.

“As a coach, I’ve never had a number of wins in mind when we start out each season. My goal for the team is for us to reach our potential as a team and work hard toward that goal,” Kim said. “In the end, our win-loss record will take care of itself and I want our players to focus on the process more so than on the outcome.”

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