MEDFORD - The Tufts volleyball team finished their regular season with a record of 20-5 while maintaining a perfect 10-0 record in conference play, earning them the No. 1 seed in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament. The Jumbos will host the conference championship tournament November 3-5 which will begin with the quarterfinal match-ups on Friday, followed by the semi-finals on Saturday and the championship match on Sunday.
Tufts will be making its 19th straight NESCAC Tournament appearance and have reached the championship game seven times. The Jumbos, who are looking to win their first league championship since 1996 this weekend, are hosting the event for the fifth time overall and for the third time in the last four seasons. Their 10-0 NESCAC season is their second straight as the team has not lost a regular-season conference game since 2015.
Head coach Cora Thompson's team has had a lot of different names step up for them this year including Mackenzie Bright who leads the team in kills per set with 2.81 and Angela Yu and Rachel Furash who are averaging 5.47 and 5.22 assists per set, respectively. Leading the way in digs per set with 4.36 is Kelly Klimo, while Christina Nwankpa (0.97) and Heather Holz (0.95) are leading the team in blocks per set.
"I am incredibly proud of this group in particular for taking it one point, one set and one match at a time," said Coach Thompson. "If there is one thing this group really understands it's that there is nothing more important than staying in and owning the present moment. They are all very aware of this program's history and they are all very excited for what the future might bring, but they also know that if they look back or look ahead they will lose sight of what's most important, the present moment."
The Jumbos will be taking on No. 8 seeded Bates (12-13, 4-6 NESCAC) in their quarterfinal match-up Friday night at Cousens Gym at 5 p.m. During the regular season Tufts won the game by a score of 3-0. Bates is making their third straight tournament appearance and 11th overall.
Wesleyan (18-5, 8-2 NESCAC) earned the No. 2 seed in the the tournament and will be taking on No. 7 seed Williams (11-11, 5-5 NESCAC) at Chase Gym at 5 p.m. on Friday night. During their regular season match, Wesleyan came away with a 3-0 victory with help from a game-high 19 digs from Phia Bellizza.
The third-seeded Bowdoin Polar Bears (14-9, 8-2 NESCAC) will be taking on No. 6 seeded Middlebury (16-8, 5-5 NESCAC) at Cousens Gym at 8 p.m. on Friday night. During their regular season contest Bowdoin swept the Panthers 3-0 and Caroline Flaharty recorded a game-high 19 kills for the Polar Bears.
The final quarterfinal game will be between No. 4 seeded Hamilton (14-8, 7-3 NESCAC) and No. 5 Amherst (16-9, 5-5 NESCAC) at Chase Gym at 8 p.m. on Friday night. During their regular season meeting the Continentals came away with a tight 3-2 victory where Margaret O'Brien recorded a game-high seven blocks for Hamilton.
The two semifinal-round matches of the NESCAC Tournament will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The final will be on Sunday at noon. Those three matches will be played at Cousens Gym.
Live video coverage of all seven matches at the NESCAC Championship will be available at https://www.nsnsports.net/conferences/nescac/. Links to live stats for all matches are at http://www.nescac.com/sports/wvball/2017-18/championship/bracket/index.
Written by Will Ferriera, Athletic Communications Intern