Starting on Saturday Sep. 18, the Brandeis women’s volleyball team participated in the University Athletic Association (UAA) round robin. After losing to Tufts University earlier that week, the Judges hoped to bounce back as they entered the round robin. They played two games on Sep. 18. One game was against Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and the second game was against the fifth-ranked Emory University. The final game of the round robin came against Case Western Reserve University on Sep. 19. Although the Judges fought hard, they ultimately left the round robin winless.
In the first game of the round robin, the women’s volleyball team faced Carnegie Mellon. To start the match, senior Stephanie Borr ’22 had the first kill to give Brandeis the first point of the match. After a quick run from CMU, the Judges called a time out after being down 2-8. The momentum from CMU appeared to be strong as the Judges eventually lost the first set 13-25. The second set was much closer, as Brandeis got their first point off a service error from CMU. Much of the second set was a back-and-forth duel. After Brandeis scored their 17th point, they went on a short run with a service error from CMU, an ace from sophomore Rita Lai ’24 and a kill from freshman Lara Verstovsek ’25. This run brought the game to 19-23. However, eventually CMU finished the set and won 25-20. The third set brought Brandeis one step closer to a comeback. With the score tied at 21-21, sophomore Ella Pereira ’24 came in clutch with two consecutive aces so the Judges could take the lead. This lead would eventually become too much for CMU and led to their first set win with a score of 24-22. In the third set, Brandeis had the lead for nearly the entire set. At one point the Judges were up by six points with only a few points to go, as the score was 20-14. That lead would quickly evaporate as CMU would go on a quick run and eventually take the lead 23-22. However, Borr came through for the team as she had two kills to retake the lead and eventually take the final set. In the fifth and final set, the Judges started out strong going up 4-1. Eventually though, CMU would seize momentum and end up taking the final set 15-5. After going down 2-0 in the series, the Judges came back to push a set five but fell just short of the reverse sweep and ended up losing the first series of the round robin 2-3. Verstovsek led the team in kills with 13 and tied senior Kaisa Newberg ’22 in digs with 22.
After the close match against CMU earlier that day, the Judges looked to get a win against Emory University. The first point of the match came from a kill by Borr. This set looked very good for the Judges as they were up 12-7 with three kills from Borr. However, Emory quickly went on a 7-point run to take the lead 14-12. This run proved to be too much as this momentum carried over with the teams alternating points. The Judges would take one point, but Emory would then get two points. The slight edge over time allowed Emory to take the first set 25-19. In the second set, the Judges never led. After the score was 4-4, Emory never looked back. Ultimately the set ended with another win from Emory 25-14. In the final set, the Judges gave it everything they had as they kept up with Emory for half the set. However, once the score reached 9-8, Emory went on runs in bunches of 2-4 points and ended up winning the set 25-14 and the series 3-0. Newberg had an incredible series as she had 10 of the 25 kills from the Judges. Pereira led all players in digs with 14.
In the final match of the UAA round robin, Brandeis faced Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). This would prove to be a tough matchup for the Judges. The first set did not start off well for the Judges as they quickly went down 0-6. Lai got the Judges on the board, but that six-point run to start the set ended up being too much for the Judges to overcome. The Judges made some small runs and shaved the deficit to five runs a few times, but it was never enough to fully come back in the set, which resulted in a 14-25 loss of the first set. In the second set, the Judges tried to get ahead early. Following two aces from sophomore Ines Grom-Mansenecal ’24 and a few kills from junior Amelia Oppenheimer ’23, the Judges led 8-7. Then CWRU once again went on a huge run. By the end of the run, Brandeis was down 11-20. Newberg tried to cut off the momentum with a kill to make the score 12-20, but ultimately that would be the last point the Judges would score as they would lose the second set 12-25. The third set of the match did not have an ideal start for the Judges, as CWRU scored eight consecutive points to start out the set. This quickly led to a 4-14 deficit for the Judges. At this point Verstovsek turned on a second gear as she would score four of the next eight points for the Judges. This cut the deficit to two and got Brandeis back into the set. Unfortunately, the set slowly slipped away from the Judges after that. The final point came from an ace by Verstovsek, but the ace came too late as the score ended up being 16-25. So, after three tough sets, the Judges would fall to CWRU 0-3. Verstovsek led the team in kills with seven and was followed by Oppenheimer and Newberg who had six each.
The Judges play three more games in September with two games on Sep. 25. One match is against Amherst College and the other is against Middlebury College.