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Volleyball ends season at UAA Championships

Between Nov. 5 and 6, the Brandeis women’s volleyball team played three games for the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships. The first game was a quarterfinal game against second-seeded Emory University. 

In their first set against Emory, the Judges quickly went down six points to start off the set. After a few attack errors from Emory, the Judges slowly started to come back. The closest the Judges got to Emory was 6-9. However, Emory just kept growing their lead from there. The final score of the set was 25-14 in favor of Emory. Out of the kills that came from Brandeis, first-year Lara Verstovsek ’25 had four of the eight. The second set started out much better for the Judges. They started off the set up 4-1. That is where the lead slowly started to slip away. Emory scored four consecutive points and they proceeded to go on multiple short runs to eventually make the lead 11-6. Belle Scott ’22, Ines Grom-Mansencal ’24 and Rita Lai ’24 had kills that brought the deficit to two to make the score 11-13; however Emory just put on more pressure and ended up winning the set 25-14. The final set again started out promisingly with a 4-3 lead for Brandeis. That lead would end up being the last lead they would have for the rest of the game. The Judges would score only five more points, so the final score was 9-25. This ended the series 0-3 for the Judges. Verstovsek led the team in kills with nine and digs with eight. 

A few hours later, the Judges played in the consolation semifinals against Case Western Reserve University. The first set had the Judges behind the entire time. Although the Judges had the set close, especially when the score was 13-16, ultimately, they could not come back to win the set and lost 18-25. The second set saw the Judges turn the entire game around as they had the lead early. Once the score was 10-8, the Judges went on an 11 to five run as they fought to win their first set of the weekend. CWRU brought the game back to cut the lead to four, but the Judges then scored four consecutive points to close their first set win of the weekend. The third set saw both teams neck and neck. Sophomore Ella Pereira ’24 had many key kills during this back and forth. After both teams traded short runs, the score was 19-19. CWRU then proceeded to try to close out the set with three consecutive points. Pereira tried to stop the moment with a kill, but this ended up accounting for nothing as CWRU scored three more points to win the set 20-25. In the final set of the series, the Judges again started out strong. At one point, they had a five-point lead. However, CWRU wanted to close out the series with this set, so they kept clawing away at the Judges’ lead. CWRU eventually caught up and brought the score to even at 22-22. With the series on the line the Judges threw everything they had, but CWRU held up and scored the final three points to end the series. Verstovsek once again led the team in kills with 13. Pereira had a great game as she had nine kills and 17 digs. Kaitlyn Oh ’22 led the team in digs with 30. 

In the Judges’ final game of the season, they faced off against the University of Rochester for the seventh place match. The Judges started their first set off against Rochester even with them. Ines Grom-Mansencal kept the score even at six before Rochester went on a run that lasted for most of the game to make the score 25-17 in favor of Rochester. The second set was again back and forth. Verstovsek had a few kills that kept the game in reach for Brandeis. Eventually, the score was tied at 24. The serve came from Brandeis but ultimately Rochester would score the point to take the lead at 25. An attack error from Lai ended up closing the set up as Rochester to a 2-0 series lead. The third set was the make or break set for the Judges. They started off strong as they took a convincing 10-4 lead. Although the Judges scored a few points, Rochester made a huge comeback to take the lead at 18-17. Kaisa Newberg ’22 quickly cut the Rochester momentum with two kills. The two teams traded points before the score was evened at 23-23. Verstovsek and Scott then proceeded to end the set with back-to-back kills. Set four was a set full of runs. Each team traded off three- to four- point runs until the Judges took a 20-15 lead. Then Rochester nearly tied the game up before Lai had a service ace to halt their comeback. Even though the ace slowed the game down for a moment, Rochester proceeded to end the game on a 5-1 run and therefore end the series. Verstovsek once again led the team in kills with 10, while Newberg was right behind her with nine. Oh led the team in digs with 25. 

The Brandeis volleyball team ended the season with an 8-20 record. As a first-year, Verstovsek led the team in kills with 275. Pereira led the team in digs with 358. Next season the Judges will continue to have three of their top five scorers and one of their top defenders as they look to build off the 2021 season.

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