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Volleyball drops four in UAA Round Robin

By Zach Cihlar

Section: Sports

October 20, 2017

Brandeis women’s volleyball hit the road again for the University Athletic Association (UAA) Second Round Robin just two weeks after Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) hosted the First Round Robin in Cleveland, Ohio. This time, the Judges set off for Chicago, Illinois, to play at the University of Chicago. The Judges encountered two top 20 teams on the four-game schedule, all played on Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15.

Entering the weekend, the Judges faced an imposing challenge due to a back injury which kept pivotal Outside Hitter (OH) Shea Decker-Jacoby ’19 out of the rotation for a short stint. Decker-Jacoby’s absence created a gap in the lineup until her return for the final game of the weekend against New York University (NYU).

First on the game schedule, the Judges faced unranked CWRU on Saturday morning. The Cleveland team, though unranked, has put up a competitive record over the season, going 14-8 and securing two wins against UAA conference opponents. The Judges dropped the match in three sets, with the final score tallying at 17-25, 16-25, 11-25.

A few hours later, the Judges returned to the stage to play #20 Washington University in St. Louis. Washington University has played tough in recent games, especially against UAA opponents. The St. Louis team held a 3-1 record in conference match-ups prior to playing Brandeis.

After a slow start losing the first set 12-25, the team improved throughout the match, applying pressure to Washington University in the second and third sets, though ultimately dropping them 21-25 and 20-25, respectively.

Despite the loss, the Judges had a good showing against a strong team that has made a dent in the national rankings. Later in the weekend, Washington University upset the #4 ranked Emory University in five sets, upending the UAA standings.

Early Sunday morning, play resumed at the University of Chicago. The Judges’ first game had them set to play #10 ranked Carnegie Mellon University, a team boasting an outstanding record of 22-1. Carnegie Mellon’s sole loss resulted from CWRU when the Cleveland team hosted the First Round Robin. Carnegie Mellon would later upset Emory University in five sets in the Pittsburgh team’s second Sunday match.

The Judges, however, were unable to make much of a dent in the scoreboard, dropping the game in straight sets 13-25, 18-25, 21-25.

The final match of the UAA Round Robins pitted Brandeis against their UAA opponent NYU. At the time of their meeting, both teams had yet to secure a UAA conference win. Brandeis had an edge in their season record, posting a 10-9 record going in compared to NYU’s 4-19 record.

With Decker-Jacoby back in for the final game of the UAA Round Robin, the Judges hoped to return to a comfortable formation, and take advantage of her strong hits. The Judges quickly took the lead in the first set, securing a six-point advantage as early as 9-3 in the scoring. Once up 11-7, the Judges found themselves in a slump, giving up nine points to NYU. The women were unable to recover from the deficit and lost the first set 22-25.

The entire second set saw the Judges struggling to gain enough momentum to secure a lead. Throughout the set, NYU dominated the Judges and, with little stress, won 20-25.

The third set proved to be the longest and most tightly contested between the two UAA teams. Brandeis and NYU exchanged leads throughout, neither team ever seeing greater than a four-point lead over the other. Coming to the close of the set, the Judges led NYU 24-23, but were unable to convert the match point when an NYU hitter put in a kill to tie it up. An error from the Judges and another kill from NYU handed the match over to NYU with the final set tallying at 24-26.

Over the four games, some key players on the Brandeis team helped out in staying competitive against the tough UAA draw. Marlee Nork ’19 helped out with double-digit assists in the three games she played, reaching a high of 15 against Washington University. Libero Yvette Cho ’19 played tough defense, racking in digs at high frequency in each of the four games. Zara Platt ’19, Marissa Borgert ’21 and Clare Meyers ’21 all put in a ton of point-winning kills as hitters at the net.

UAA contest is not over yet for the Judges, though. The team will seek redemption on Nov. 3-4 at the UAA tournament in Atlanta, Georgia. With six games left in the regular season (all away), the Judges have plenty of time to work out kinks and get healthy before returning to the UAA stage.

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