Volleyball Completes Perfect New England Challenge With Wins Over Babson and Springfield

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The Tufts volleyball team finished out play in the New England Challenge, picking up 3-0 wins over both Babson and Springfield on Saturday on the campus of Williams College.  The Jumbos started tournament play with a win over No. 15 MIT on Friday night. Senior captain Alex Garret and sophomore Christina Nwankpa were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Senior Alex Garrett was one of two named to the All-Tournament Team

The two wins help the Jumbos improve to 18-5 overall with the two wins.  Babson falls to 17-7 with the loss, as they also fell to Williams on Saturday. Springfield opened the day with a loss to Middlebury, and the loss to Tufts moves their record to 14-11 overall as they have lost their last six matches. 

The Jumbos started the day with a 3-0 win over Babson, 25-17, 25-12, 25-12.  The first set was close with the Beavers, especially in the beginning.  With things tied at six early the Jumbos got kills from sophomore Rachel Furash and Maddie Stewart and then a Beaver error and another kill by Stewart to take the 10-6 lead. They would hold on to that lead for the duration of the set, winning 25-17. 

Tufts opened the second set by scoring ten unanswered points behind the serve of Garrett.  That deficit was too much for the Beavers as the Jumbos won set two 25-12. 

Once again the Jumbos opened up the scoring in the third set, and took an early lead.  The Beavers would come back, and sneak within two, 9-7.  But, once again the Jumbos were able to start a rally behind the serve of Garrett and they moved out to a 15-7 lead and the 25-12 win in set three. 

Nwankpa led the Jumbo offense, finishing with nine kills in 17 attempts for a .529 hitting percentage and adding three blocks to her efforts.  Stewart finished with eight kills and four blocks and junior Mackenzie Bright and freshman Sophia Acker each added seven kills to the win.  Defensively, Garrett finished with ten digs, sophomore Kelly Klimo added nine and Furash and Acker both tallied eight each.  Garrett finished the match with 23 serve attempts and four aces for the Jumbos. Furash and junior Angela Yu took care of the setting, finishing with 22 and 14 assists, respectively. 

Kristin Carosotto and Allie Puccio were the offensive leaders for the Beavers, each adding five kills to the day.  Defensively, Abby Beecher tallied nine digs and Puccio added seven of her own.  Elizabeth Cameron ran the offense for the Beavers, finishing with 18 assists. 

In the second match of the day the Jumbos topped Springfield in three sets, 25-18, 26-24, 25-19.  Things in the first set were close early, as the two teams traded the lead a bit.  With things locked at eight, the Jumbos took advantage of two Pride errors to take the 10-8 lead.  The two teams went back and forth scoring for a bit, and thanks to two kills from Acker and a Pride error the Jumbos took a 14-10 lead. Up by three, 20-17, the Jumbos scored four straight points behind the serve of Rachel Furash, including two service aces, to take a 24-17 advantage, and they held on to that lead for the 25-18 win in set one. 

In set two the Pride took an early lead and held on to that lead for most of the first half of the set.  The Jumbos tied things at 11 thanks to kills from Stewart and Bright, but then the Pride took the lead once again. Once again the Jumbos tied things at 18, but then again the Pride took the lead. The Jumbos would tie it again at 23 and after the two teams traded points and things were locked at 24 the Jumbos got kills from Bright and Nwankpa to take the 26-24 win in set two. 

The Pride took the lead again in set three, but when the Jumbos tied things at eight, they were able to take the lead after. The Jumbos would lead by two to three points until they scored five points behind the serve of Klimo to take the 20-14 advantage. They held on to that lead for a 25-19 win in set three. 

Bright finished with a match-high 15 kills for the Jumbos.  Nwankpa and Stewart each added eight.  Nwankpa's eight kills came in 14 attempts with no errors for a .571 hitting percentage.  Sophomore Heather Holz added six kills and four blocks.  Acker turned in seven kills.  Defensively both Klimo and Garrett finished with 15 digs  and Yu added seven of her own. Furash and Yu once again ran the offense, finishing with 22 and 18 assists, respectively. 

Jen Donnelly led the Pride with 13 kills and Camryn Bancroft helped with six of her own.  Anagabrielle Sanchez turned in 15 digs and Hannah Lozano added 11.  Daniela Detore and Kayley Cimino took care of the setting, each finishing with 15 assists. 

The Jumbos are back in action when they wrap up their regular season with a NESCAC trip to Connecticut.  They take on Connecticut College on Friday night at 7 pm and then Wesleyan on Saturday at 1 pm.  Babson will play again on Tuesday when they host Wellesley for a 7 pm start.  Springfield takes the court again on Tuesday as well as they host Wheaton at 7 pm.

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New England Challenge All Tournament Team

Alli Davanzo (Middle Hitter, MIT)
Christina Nwankpa (Middle Hitter, Tufts)
Alex Garrett (Defensive Specialist, Tufts)
Elizabeth Cameron (Setter, Babson)
Anagabrielle Sanchez (Libero, Springfield)
Isabel Sessions (Outside Hitter, Middlebury)
Ally Ostrow (Outside Hitter, Williams)