Wins Over RIT and Wellesley Help Volleyball Finish Second at MIT Invitational Saturday

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Tufts volleyball team picked up two wins on the second day of the MIT Invitational to remain perfect on the season.  The Jumbos won early in the day 3-0 over RIT before picking up a 3-1 win over Wellesley on Saturday afternoon. Senior Brigid Bell and freshman Stephanie Lee were named to the All-Tournament team after their strong performances this weekend. 

Senior Brigid Bell was one of two Jumbos named to the All-Tournament team

The Jumbos are now 7-0 this season.  RIT is 5-5 overall and Wellesley is 5-3 after MIT Invite play.  Tufts finished second in the invitational standings, only behind Babson.  Both Babson and Tufts finished with identical 3-0 records but the Beavers were 9-1 in sets won and the Jumbos 9-2.  

The Jumbos started the second day of invitational play with a 3-0 win over RIT.  The two teams played a close first set.  With the score tied at 20 the Jumbos got a block from senior Christina Nwankpa and then two aces from Bell.  After a kill from the Tiger's Katie Hobler, the Jumbos got a kill from senior Maddie Stewart to pick up a 25-21 win in set one. 

In the second set the Jumbos broke a 4-4 tie by scoring seven points behind the serve of Lee to take an 11-4 lead.  The Tigers came within three, 18-15, but Tufts hung on for the 25-18 win in set two. 

The third set was close for most of the first half.  With things locked at ten the Jumbos scored five points behind the serve of senior Rachel Furash to take a 15-10 lead.  They held on for a 25-17 win in set three to take the match. 

Sophomore Cate Desler and Bell were the offensive leaders for the Jumbos with ten kills each.  Desler added five digs and Bell added six of her own.  Stewart finished with seven kills and four blocks.  Nwankpa added five kills and five blocks.  Defensively, Lee was the leader with nine digs.  She also added three aces to her day.  Furash and sophomore Ariel Zedric took care of the setting, finishing with 21 and seven assists, respectively. 

Hobler led the Tigers with 11 kills and eight digs and Taylor Higgins finished with ten kills and five digs.  Kelly Waters added eight kills.  Maria Simonetti turned in a team-high ten digs.  Brianna Ellis ran the offense, finishing with 26 assists. 

In their second match of the day the Jumbos earned a 3-1 win over Wellesley.  In the first set the Blue scored the first two points and then the Jumbos answered with four points behind the serve of Bell.  After another Blue point, Tufts scored five points behind the serve of Lee to take a 9-3 lead.  Once again, the Blue picked up a point, and then the Jumbos got behind the serve of Stewart to score seven straight points to take a 16-4 lead.  They picked up the 25-18 win in the first set. 

The Jumbos had a lead for most of the second set, and were leading 18-12 late in the set.  The Blue fought back and tied things at 25 and forced the set to extra points.  But, with the set tied at 25 the Jumbos got a kill from Nwankpa and then took advantage of a Blue error to pick up the 27-25 win. 

Tufts started the third set with a lead, but the Blue tied things at 11 and then took a lead of their own thanks to a Jumbo error and an ace from Becca Aristotelidis.  The Jumbos fought back, but the Blue stayed alive in the match with a 25-21 win in set three. 

It was all Jumbos in the fourth set, as they grabbed an early lead and held on for a 26-9 win to take the match 3-1. 

Desler matched her career-high with 17 kills to lead the offense.  She also added eight digs and three blocks.  Stewart added 11 kills, five digs, five aces and three blocks.  Bell turned in ten kills and seven digs, along with four aces.  Nwankpa helped with six kills and six blocks.  Senior Heather Holz was also a force at the net with three kills and five blocks.  Lee led the defense with ten digs.  Furash finished with 36 assists, and Zedric added seven. The Jumbos finished with 15 aces as a team. 

Lauren Gedney led the Blue with 12 kills.  Nikki Jensen added eight kills and four digs and Nicole Doerges turned in seven kills and six digs. Meghan Shoop led the defense with 11 digs and Izzy Seebold took care of the setting, collecting 32 assists.  

The Jumbos play again on Friday when they travel to Connecticut College for a 7 pm start with the Camels.  RIT is back in action on Friday with an 8 pm match against Susquehanna.  Wellesley takes on Emerson on the road on Tuesday at 7 pm.