Volleyball Holds Off Connecticut College for Five-Set NESCAC Quarterfinal Victory

Junior Isabel Kuhel swung for a match-high 17 kills

Recap courtesy of Williams College

WILLIAMSTOWN - The Tufts University volleyball team managed to hang on for a five-set win over Connecticut College 25-21, 26-24, 28-30, 25-27, and 15-8 in the NESCAC Championship quarterfinals held at Williams College. Tufts' win elevated their record to 20-7 on the season, while lowering Connecticut College's record to 15-12.

The Camels got off to a hot start, putting together a four-point run early to give them a slim 6-4 lead. This stretch of points was capped off by a well-earned point where sophomore Jamie Balkin made a beautiful diving dig which fell perfectly to fellow sophomore Kaitlin Cunningham who set a beautiful pass for another sophomore, Caroline Martin, who finished the point off with an inch-perfect spike into the open part of the court. From there, the Camels extended their lead to 9-6, but then the Jumbos came alive. Sophomore libero Carolina Berger made a wonderful sliding dig off a massive smash from a Camel outside hitter, before freshman Elizabeth Ahrens stuffed the next Camel smash. This great defensive point sent the Jumbos on a seven-point tear that gave them a large enough lead to close out the first set 25-21.

Each side got off to a slow start in the second set, but the combination of sophomore Kyra Baum and junior Isabel Kuhel for the Jumbos and the combination of freshman Emily Arterbury and junior Anelise Hohl for the Camels both came alive late in the set. After a string of errors that left the score at 15-14 in favor of the Camels, Baum assisted three Kuhel kills in a span of four points, with the other kill going to Hayley Hopper. Arterbury and Hohl responded by connecting for two points of their own, and the back-and-forth continued all the way to 24-24, when a pair of assists by Baum, to Hopper and then Kuhel, closed out the set 26-24.

The Jumbos looked to be cruising to a relaxed straight-sets victory when disaster struck up 24-16 in the third set. The Camels managed to rattle off eight straight points thanks to a pair of aces by Arterbury and some nervous setting by the Jumbos. Once the score had been tied up, each team exchanged points until the Camels had their first set point at 29-28, when Martin served a ball in the back-left corner for an ace, keeping the Camels alive.

The Jumbos came out in the fourth set reenergized, taking seven of the first eight points, including five points in-a-row. It didn't take the Camels too long for them to formulate a response, however, as they put together a streak of seven points of their own, thanks to a pair of aces from Martin and a pair of kills from freshman Chloe Ainley. Drawing memories of the second set, each team exchanged points to the score 24-24, when the Camels found a way once again to survive a set point, thanks to the combination of Arterbury and Hohl for two kills to put away the fourth set 27-25.

The Camels could only dance their way out of danger so many times as the Jumbos first went on a four-point run then a six-point run several points later to ensure that they would easily rap up the match after some shaky moments.

Kuhel lead all scorers with 17 of the Jumbos' 51 kills, while Ainley and freshman Alex McDevitt shared the spoils for the Camels with 15 each of the 58 total kills. Baum had 41 of the Jumbo's 51 assists, while Arterbury had 47 of the Camels' 59 total assists.

Tufts plays the hosts, Williams College, tomorrow at 1 pm in the semi-finals.