MEDFORD – Sophomores Christina Nwankpa and Maddie Stewart combined for 23 kills and the first seeded Tufts volleyball team picked up a 3-0 win over fifth seeded Amherst in a NESCAC semifinal match in Cousens Gym on Saturday afternoon.
|Maddie Stewart led the Jumbos with 12 kills on Saturday vs. Amherst|
The Jumbos (22-5) move on to the conference final where they will play the winner of the match between Wesleyan and Bowdoin. Amherst sees their season end with a 17-10 mark.
The first set was the tightest of the day, and it was Amherst that took the early lead, 11-7. The Jumbos would tie it at 12 and the two teams traded points and the lead for most of the rest of the set. With things locked at 19 the Jumbos got a kill from sophomore Rachel Furash, a Mammoth error and a kill from sophomore Heather Holz to help them take a 22-19 lead. The Mammoths came within one, 23-22, but the Jumbos got two kills from Stewart to pick up the 25-22 win in the first set.
Amherst once again took the lead in the second set, and held an early 12-6 lead over the Jumbos. A kill from freshman Sophia Acker, followed by a Mammoth error and an ace from junior Angela Yu and a kill from junior Mackenzie Bright brought the Jumbos within two, 12-10. They would tie things at 13, and once again the two teams traded points and the lead. With the score tied at 16 the Jumbos scored four straight points behind the serve of Furash to take a 20-16 lead. That resulted in a 25-21 win for the Jumbos in set two to take the 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set was all Jumbos as they took an early lead and held on to that lead for a 25-15 win to seal the 3-0 match win.
Stewart was the kill leader with 12 while Nwankpa finished with 11 kills and four blocks. Bright finished with eight kills and sophomore Brigid Bell tallied five kills and 14 digs. Sophomore Kelly Klimo led the defensive efforts with 21 digs, and Yu added 13. Furash and Yu took care of the setting, finishing with 17 and 21 assists, respectively.
Daria Kim-Percy was the offensive leader for the Mammoths with eight kills and eight digs. Marialexa Natsis turned in seven kills. Claire Dennis and Cameron Hendricks added five kills and four kills, respectively, and each added four blocks to the day. Defensively, Hayes Honea was the leader with 13 digs. Charlotte Duran ran the offense, picking up 20 assists.
The Jumbos advance to their second consecutive NESCAC Final and will be looking for their first conference crown since 1996. They will play the winner of the Wesleyan Bowdoin match at 12 pm on Sunday in Cousens Gym.