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Brandeis volleyball 9/1/21

Playing for the first time in nearly two years, the Brandeis Judges volleyball team opened their season at Red Auerbach Arena on Wednesday, defeating the Suffolk Rams in straight sets (25-14, 25-15, 26-24).

 

After convincingly taking the first two sets, the Judges clawed their way in the third set. Following a Suffolk timeout when the Judges were up 20-18, the Rams rattled off four points in a row, which included two aces. The Judges benefited from several mistakes to go ahead 23-22. The Rams answered with two straight points to go up 24-23 with a chance to win the set. The Judges tied the score at 24 thanks to a kill from outside hitter Lara Verstovsek ’25. The Judges won the next point to go up 25-24. Emerson White ’22 sealed the deal with her match-leading eighth kill.

 

The Judges were led with a balanced attack. Verstovsek and middle hitter Kaisa Newberg ’22 had seven and six kills respectively. Setter Ines Grom-Mansenecal ’24 was instrumental in setting up her teammates with pinpoint passes, as she notched 26 assists. Libero Kaitlyn Oh ’22, who averaged a team-high 4.90 digs per set in 2019, picked up right where she left off, leading the Judges with eight digs. The Judges recorded eight aces in the match, with Verstovsek and Grom-Mansenecal each leading the team with two.

 

In the opening set, the Judges got out to an early 8-6 lead. The Judges then proceeded to go on an 11-5 run, extending their lead in the set to 19-11, and causing Suffolk to call a timeout. The Judges closed out the set winning six of the final nine points, capped off by a kill from Stephanie Borr ’22.

 

The Judges picked up right where they left off in the second set, as they raced out to an 11-2 lead. The Judges led by at least seven points throughout the set, and their largest lead in the set was 13 points at 20-7.

 

The Judges have one of the toughest schedules in all of Division III. As it stands currently the Judges will play 12 games against teams who made it to the NCAA tournament in 2019. In addition, the Judges are members of the University Athletic Association (UAA), which boasts some of the top teams in the nation. Four teams from the UAA qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2019, including Emory who advanced to the final.

 

Judges head coach Alesia Bennett has high expectations for her team. In a phone call with The Hoot, she said the Judges have all the ingredients to make a tournament run. She believes the Judges will need to display more consistency in conference play to be successful. With many formidable conference opponents, the margin for error is that much smaller.

 

The Judges’ challenging non-conference schedule should bode well for them heading into UAA play. The Judges play Westfield St. on Saturday, Sep. 4 and Tufts on Saturday, Sep. 11 and Tuesday, Sep. 14. Both teams made the tournament in 2019.

 

The Judges’ next game at Red Auerbach Arena is Thursday, Sep. 9 at 6 p.m..

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