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Volleyball breaks tough streak

After a tough set of games, the Brandeis volleyball team looked to finish the season strong. This started with a home game against Johnson and Wales University (JWU) on Oct. 20. Last year, the Judges barely lost to JWU in a close 2-3 battle. JWU started set one on a quick 4-0 run to take the lead early. However, the Judges recovered fast as Sydney Bent (GRAD) and sophomore Tatiana Wainer ’25 had kills to help even the game. The two teams went back and forth for a little bit before the Judges went on a 6-1 run to take a 15-9 lead. Then, almost as if on cue, JWU went on a huge run of their own to take the lead back. The 9-2 run gave them an 18-17 lead. JWU would score a few more points and get to 20 points first, however Brandeis once again turned around and went on a run to take that lead right back. A 5-0 run fueled by kills from junior Rita Lai ’24 and Bent gave Brandeis a 23-20 lead. It was truly going to go down to the wire. JWU stopped the run to make it 21-23, but Brandeis refused to lose the set. A kill from sophomore Lara Verstovsek ’25, followed by a service ace by Gracie Lerian sealed the 25-21 set win. 

Set two had Brandeis in control almost the entire time. They were never behind throughout the entire set. A strong 9-3 start for the Judges set the pace. The Judges held multiple six-point leads throughout the set, and that would be the biggest their lead would get. There were a few times when the set got a little tense for the Judges. After being behind 7 they went on a 5-1 run to tie the game at 14-14. However, Brandeis slowly built a lead back up and eventually won the second set 25-19. The start of set three was very competitive. Bent helped the team stay in the game early, in addition to the kills from Verstovsek. After a service error from JWU, the score was tied at 6-6. Then Brandeis took the lead and never looked back. They proceeded to go on a 5-0 run and then slowly just scored in short bursts. The Judges won set three 25-20 and broke their seven-game losing streak. 

Verstovsek led the team in total kills with 16. She also tied for third on the team in blocks with eight. Bent had an all-around great game as she finished second on the team in kills with 14. She also had 19 digs for a team lead. Junior Ines Grom-Mansencal ’24 led the team in assists with 38. 

The Judges then played an away game against Tufts University on Oct. 26. Last year, Brandeis fell to Tufts in a tough 0-3 match. Set one was a tough bout between the two teams. The two teams went back and forth for the entire set. Tufts looked like they were going to take the set as they led 23-20, but the Judges proceeded to score three straight points to tie the set. Verstovsek and senior Emerson White ’23 helped lead the team down the stretch. The Judges proceeded to win the crazy set 29-27 after scoring three consecutive points. In the second set, Tufts took an early 4-1 lead and never looked back. From there, Tufts continued to build their lead as Brandeis trudged behind. Tufts ended up winning the set 25-14. Set three once again saw Tufts get out to an early lead. However, this time Brandeis came back from their 5-10 deficit to tie the game at 13-13. The rest of the set had Brandeis just behind Tufts, but still within striking distance. They held off three set points, but ultimately, Tufts took the set 28-26. Set four was very close to start, with Brandeis having the lead. Their biggest lead was 9-6 after Verstovsek had a service ace. However, Tufts answered with a 13-3 run that the Judges could not overcome. Brandeis tried to make a comeback, but Tufts held on and won the set 25-16 and the match 3-1. 

Verstovsek had a great game with 23 kills and 15 digs as she had her sixth double-double of the season. She led the match in kills, and it was her second match of the season where she had over 20 kills. Bent also had another strong game with 12 kills and 28 digs, which led the team. This was her ninth double-double of the season. Grom-Mansencal led the team in assists with 37 assists. She also had 11 digs, as she posted her 10th double-double of the season. 

Up next is the team’s senior night on Oct. 27 against Wellesley College. Last year, the Judges beat Wellesley 3-0 in their late season matchup. Brandeis will then play one more away game against Springfield College on Oct. 29, before starting the University Athletic Association Tournament on Nov. 4 against New York University. The Judges’ current record sits at 10-13 overall and 0-7 in conference. 

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