The women’s volleyball team rebounded from their recent round robin losses this weekend by coming out strong at the Hall of Fame Invitational. Finishing the tournament with a record of 2-1, the Judges were able to defeat Bridgewater State and Smith College, but fell short to Middlebury in the second match. Now holding a season record of 16-11, the team looks to further their offensive performance and carry home victories from the remaining tournaments.
Going into the invitational, the Judges were focused on their games and refused to accept three-straight defeats.
“Our team is great at using past weekends to help improve our upcoming tournaments,” Senior middle blocker Becca Fischer ’13 said. “After playing four very tough teams [at the second Round Robin] we were able to channel that into our tournament this past weekend.”
In the first match against Bridgewater State, the Judges were able to secure an easy 3-0 win over the Bears. The Bears, holding a season record of 10-13, were unable to hold a candle to the Brandeis players who managed to produce a high-scoring game. The scores of the three sets were 25-20, 25-19 and 25-19.
Four of the Brandeis players recorded double-digit stats in the tournament opener. Junior setter Yael Einhorn ’14 nailed a double-double with 28 assists and a team-high 11 digs. She now carries a total of 906 assists and 218 digs for her career performance. Junior outside hitter Si-Si Hensley ’14, just shy of scoring a double-double, recorded nine digs and a team-high 11 kills for the Judges. Sophomore outside hitter Liz Hood ’15 tallied 10 kills, while libero Elsie Bernaiche ’15 added 10 digs.
The second game against the Middlebury Panthers proved to get the best of the Judges. Beating the Judges 3-0 in all three sets, the Panthers held a tight grip on the Judges’ offensive opportunities. The Judges got close to making a comeback in the second set; however, the Panthers managed a 23-25 set point win. Unable to fend off Middlebury, who carry a 17-5 season record, the Judges lost all three sets by margins of 19-25, 23-25 and 16-25.
Unlike the Bridgewater State game, the match against the Panthers saw relatively lower scoring from the Brandeis players. Hood recorded nine kills, while teammate Hensley gained seven. Einhorn contributed 24 assists and Bernaiche added 10 digs. Although none of the Brandeis players were able to record a double-double, the Judges felt confident going into their final game against Smith.
Keeping their eye on their target, the Judges dominated the first set against the Smith College Pioneers by a score of 25-19. Unwilling to accept a defeat early in the game, the Pioneers made a comeback to win the second set 25-22. The Judges, maintaining their momentum, responded with a 25-21 score in the third. Far from ending the game, the Judges and the Pioneers fought two more sets, the Pioneers taking the fourth and the Judges commanding the fifth. The set points for the match were 25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 18-25 and 15-11, making the final score for the closely contested match 3-2.
The top performers for the Judges included Hood who scored 15 kills; however, the pivotal plays from the match were made by the middle blockers. Rookie Maddie Engeler ’16 achieved her career-high 10 blocks and scored nine kills. Senior Lauren Berens ’13 tallied a season-high 12 kills and had two block assists. Fischer totaled 10 kills and had only three errors in 20 attempts as well as one block assist. Altogether, the Judges recorded 81 digs; Bernaiche earned 25, Hensley had 16, Susan Sun ’13 secured 12, and Hood added 11 to achieve her second double-double of the season. Hood’s stellar performance for the Judges, with 34 kills at the invitational, was rewarded with All-Tournament Honors.
Finishing off the season and performing well at the remaining tournaments is both exhilarating and emotional for the Judges, especially for the seniors.
When asked how she felt about ending her final season, Fischer responded, “We have become a more united team over the season. Every game allows us to learn new things and utilize them in the following game. We have two tournaments left and we are all hoping for a strong finish. Each match is important and we are going to play our hardest and show how much we have all improved.”