After starting the season with three-straight match wins at the Western Connecticut State University Invitational, the Brandeis volleyball team struggled in their home opener with a straight sets loss against Wellesley College. With their first loss of the season, the team falls to 3-1.
Outside hitter Si-Si Hensley ’14 led the way at the Western Invitational with a dominating tournament. In the first game, a 3-1 victory over Salve Regina University, she posted a double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs. In that same game, setter Yael Einhorn ’14 had 37 assists while libero Elsie Bernaiche ’15 had 19 digs. Outside hitter Liz Hood had nine kills while middle blocker Maddie Engeler ’16 recorded eight blocks in her collegiate debut.
In the second day of the tournament, the Judges were able to escape with a pair of wins.
Against Johnson and Wales, the Judges twice bounced back from a set down, 1-0 and 2-1, to come away with a narrow 3-2 victory. Hood tallied 16 kills and Engeler added 13 more. Bernaiche finished with 28 digs and Einhorn recorded 49 assists.
In the final match of the tournament, the Judges once again rallied from a deficit. After dropping the first set, Brandeis came back strong and won the next three sets to finish the Invitational with a 3-0 record. In the final match against host Western Connecticut State, Hood registered 15 kills while Hensley and Einhorn each recorded double-doubles with 11 kills and 20 digs, and 37 assists and 18 digs respectively.
For her strong performance and two double-doubles over the course of the tournament, Hensley was named tournament MVP while Bernaiche was named an all-tournament selection for her defensive expertise.
Hensley stressed that during the preseason “We talked about coming out strong, which we didn’t really do last year. It was great that we could push through playing a five game match and even when things got bad we brought ourselves back up. Just having a consistent attitude really helped us.”
Hensley continually stressed the importance of a consistent attitude and execution.
“Last year we lacked a consistent attitude on the court and let things get to us. This year we’ve definitely changed that and our chemistry is a lot better, too. What we really need to work on now is just executing consistently in the upcoming matches,” she said.
Consistency was a major problem for the Judges last year as they could never sustain any momentum, winning streaks or consistency in what turned out to be an extremely disappointing season.
“We’ve been working on certain aspects of our game like blocking and defense and trying to come out stronger, and not let the other teams go on huge point-runs and then having to try to catch up. We’re also trying to work on being consistent in our execution so even if we’re up not letting the lead dwindle as the game goes on,” Hensley said.
Unfortunately for the Judges, in their home opener, they failed to execute consistently in a 3-0 straight sets loss to Wellesley. All three sets were competitive, 25-21, 25-19 and 25-20, but in each set Wellesley was able to put together a late point run to pull away from the Judges. While Hensley had stressed the importance of a consistent effort to avoid this scenario, the Judges were unable to put together a consistent effort from start to finish.
In the match, Hensley continued her torrid start to the season with eight kills while Hood also added six kills. Bernaiche had 17 digs to lead the defense while Einhorn finished with 23 assists.
Brandeis will look to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they host the Brandeis Invitational starting on Friday. The Judges will open the tournament with matches against Babson at 5 p.m. and Tufts at 7 p.m.