Killer Day From Desler Leads Volleyball To Nail-Biter Over Otterbein and Win Over Oglethorpe

ATLANTA – With just one match under their belts the women's volleyball team headed south to compete in the Emory National Tournament and opened up tournament play with wins over Oglethrope and Otterbein on Friday. 

Junior Rachel Furash finished the day with 57 assists across two matches

The Jumbos improve to 3-0 with the wins.  They topped Oglethorpe (0-5) in just three sets, 25-16, 25-13, 25-15, to open up play.  In the afternoon they collected their second win of the day, this time in nail-biter fashion over Otterbein (3-3), 25-20, 20-25, 26-28, 25-22, 15-13. In the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association national poll, Tufts was receiving 33 votes with Otterbein receiving 32 votes. 

The second match of the day was the more challenging for the Jumbos.  They opened up the first set by grabbing an early lead.  A few Cardinal errors and an ace by rookie Ariel Zedric put the Jumbos ahead 18-11.  Otterbein chipped away at that lead, coming as close as three late in the set, but the Jumbos held on for a 25-20 win in set one. 

In set two things went back and forth and the set was tied six times before the Jumbos took a three-point lead thanks to kill by junior Heather Holz to put them ahead, 14-11.  But, the Cardinals then scored six points behind the serve of Olivia Harris to take a three-point lead of their own, 17-14.  The Jumbos cut that lead to two, but Otterbein picked up the 25-20 win in set two to even the match at one. 

The score was tied seven times early in the third set before the Jumbos took a 15-11 lead thanks to a kill from freshman Cate Desler.  Otterbein scored four consecutive points to tie things at 22.  The match was tied three more times before the Cardinals got two kills from Hadley Sterett to take set three 28-26.  

The two teams traded points for nearly the entire fourth set.  With things locked at 21 the Jumbos capitalized on a Cardinal error and got an ace from junior Rachel Furash.  After a bad set by the Cardinals they broke up the Jumbo scoring streak with another kill from Sterett, to come within two, 24-22.  But, an attack error from Cardinal Emily Shuk gave the Jumbos the win in set four and evened the match at two.  

Once again things were close in the fifth set.  With the score tied at five the Jumbos scored four points behind the serve of Desler, including two aces, to take a 9-5 lead.  They held on to that lead right till the end.  Ahead 14-11, the Cardinals got a kill from Sterett and a Jumbo error brought the Cardinals within one, 14-13.  But, Desler turned in her 11th kill of the match to give the Jumbos the 15-13 win in set five, and the 3-2 match win. 

Desler finished with 11 kills, ten digs, three aces and three blocks for the Jumbos.  Junior Brigid Bell added 11 kills and six digs, and senior captain Mackenzie Bright finished with 11 kills and two aces.  Junior Christina Nwanpka turned in eight kills and four blocks.  Sophomore Sophia Acker led the defensive efforts, finishing with 25 digs.  Junior Rachel Furash ran most of the offense, racking up 35 assists. 

For the Cardinals, Sterett finished with 31 kills and 12 digs.  Alana King-Mendenhall added nine kills and nine digs, and Shuk totaled eight kills and three digs.  Ashlyn Leon led the defensive efforts, turning in 18 digs and Andrea Miller took care of the setting, collecting 54 assists.   

In the first match of the day the Jumbos found themselves behind early in the first set against Oglethorpe.  A kill from junior captain Maddie Stewart, followed by a Petrel error and a service ace from Bell brought the Jumbos within one.  A double block from Desler and Holz tied the match at eight, and then a Desler kill gave the Jumbos the lead.  They scored four more consecutive points to take a 13-8 lead and never looked back, picking up the 25-16 win in set one. 

Tufts continued where they left in the second set, scoring eight straight points to take an early 9-2 lead.  The Petrels never scored more than one consecutive point for the duration of the set, and the Jumbos picked up the 25-13 win in set two. Set three was Tufts dominated as well, as the Jumbos took an early lead and cruised to a 25-15 win in the final set.

Bell finished with 11 kills on 24 attempts for a .375 hitting percentage for the Jumbos.  Desler added ten kills and a .474 hitting percentage along with 13 digs, three service aces and three blocks to the Tufts cause.  Bright added seven kills, and Holz tallied four kills and three blocks.  Defensively, Acker led the Jumbos with 15 digs and junior Madison Clay turned in seven of her own.  Furash took care of most of the setting for the Jumbos, finishing with 22 assists.  The Jumbos held their opponents to just a .023 hitting percentage across the three sets. 

For the Petrels Brianna Chin was the offensive leader with ten kills and nine digs.  Jacoby Sims added six kills and five digs.  Emma Williams turned in six digs and nine assists.  Grace Holder finished with six assists and five digs. 

The Jumbos are back in action tomorrow at the Emory National Tournament, taking on No. 25 Berry at 11 am and the host and No. 8 ranked Emory at 4 pm.