Volleyball Advances to NESCAC Final With 3-1 Win Over Bowdoin

Kelly Klimo helped the Jumbos with a career-high 34 digs.

MEDFORD – After falling in the first set, the Tufts volleyball team came back to win three straight sets and take a 3-1 win over Bowdoin in the NESCAC Semifinals in Cousens Gym on the campus of Tufts University on Saturday afternoon.  The first-seeded Jumbos advance to the conference final where they will face off with second-seeded Middlebury.

The Jumbos are now 24-2 this season and will play for their first conference title since 1996 tomorrow.  With the loss Bowdoin, the fourth seed in the tournament, ends their season with a 15-10 record.

The Polar Bears took the lead early in the first set and held on to it for most of the first set.  The Jumbos were able to tie things at 18, and after the two teams traded points the Polar Bears got kills from Sydney Salle and Michelle Albright to take a 21-19 lead.  A kill from Jumbo senior McKenzie brought the Jumbos within one again, but the Polar Bears responded with kills from Khelsea Gordon and Salle and held on to the 25-21 win in set one.

The two teams would trade points in the second set to start, but the Jumbos then scored five consecutive points behind the serve of freshman Rachel Furash to take an 8-4 lead. The Jumbos would lead by as many as eight, 17-9, but the Polar Bears were pulled together a comeback and came within one late in the match, 22-21.  But a kill from junior Katie Kim followed by back-to-back kills from sophomore Mackenzie Bright secured a 25-21 win for the Jumbos in set two to even the match at one.  

The Jumbos took the lead early in the third set and would hold that lead for the duration of the set.  The Polar Bears once again made things interesting, coming within one 21-20.  But, a Polar Bear service error followed by an attack error gave the Jumbos the three point advantage, a lead they held on to for the 25-23 win in set three to take the 2-1 lead in the match.

Things were close for most of the fourth set as the two teams traded the lead for the first half of the set.  With things locked at 12 the Jumbos got a kill from freshman Brigid Bell, and thanks to a Polar Bear error and a kill from sophomore Angela Yu, they were able to take a lead, 15-12.  The Jumbos held on to that lead to secure the 25-21 win in set four to take the match, 3-1.

The Jumbos had several players contribtute to the cause offensively as Bright and senior co-captain Elizabeth Ahrens finished with nine kills and freshman Maddie Stewart and Bell and Kim all added eight kills each.  Senior McKenzie Humann finished with six kills and five blocks.  Defensively, freshman Kelly Klimo led the Jumbos with a career-high 34 digs and Bell helped with 20 of her own.  Yu took care of the setting for the Jumbos, tallying 30 assists as Furash helped with 14.  

For the Polar Bears it was Caroline Flaharty that led the offense with 11 kills and Erika Sklaver and Salle each added ten.  Katie Doherty totaled 26 digs and Lisa Sheldon helped with 25 digs.  Quincy Leech ran the offense for the Polar Bears, finishing with 38 assists.  

The Jumbos now advance to play second-seeded Middlebury for the conference title on Sunday at noon.