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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Judges fall short at Babson’s turnaround

Published: November 7, 2014
Section: Sports

The Tri-Match Senior Day of volleyball began with heavyweight opponent Babson Beavers, who hold the title of No. 1 team in the conference. After a cheering start in the first set as the Judges dropped the hammer with 25-21, the game turned out to be a turnaround for the Beavers as they spared the Judges no chance of comeback by finishing the game with three straight wins with scores of 25-20, 25-18 and 25-13. The Judges would go into the next combat with a 7-21 record while Babson rose to 23-8 overall and 9-1 for conference games.

The fighting effort from the Judges was quite impressive in the first three sets, especially in the first set, which they managed to win. The Judges had 14 kills with a 37.9 percent hitting percentage and only three errors for the whole set. The clutch play came when the score stopped at 16-14, as players Maddie Engler ’16 and Lia Goldberg ’18 formed a solid fortress above the net to successfully hold off the Beavers’ defense and to make two key blocks. Five straight points were gained with such defensive effort, and the big lead in the late game at the end left the No. 1 seed in the conference a huge upset.

“We started off very strong. We’ve been playing more positive. It’s getting so much better after the season about being positive. And that’s a huge goal for us,” said Julie Kim ’18 of the team’s extraordinary energy at the beginning of the match.

However, the Beavers suddenly became much more ferocious in the second set. The Judges weren’t ready for the adjustment when they found their strategy in offense no longer worked out and their defense was punctured by the high intensity of the Beavers’ strikes. The opponent was no longer surprised by the decoy plays from Carly Gutner Davis ’15 in the front and their serves had much higher quality than the first set to diminish error.

“They did move some of their players around. They did add some new players. They did change their lineup. They have a lot of strong players. They just came back harder. I felt in the first game they weren’t playing to their fullest,” said Kim on the halt of the Judges’ momentum in the second set. But shortly after, the team actually hung on and the players tried their best to get themselves a comeback.

Engler was assigned to be the front hitter while Davis was put in the back to facilitate defense. The new lineup regained the impetus the team presented in the first set and created a huge comeback wave as the score was suddenly changed to 18 to 21. However, the Beavers fully utilized the time out to again pull themselves together and to finally secure their lead to the end of the second set.

The third set started off evenly between the two teams with points scored back and forth. The Brandeis players pushed themselves to the limit, as Amanda Nguyen ’18 finished several incredibly deep digs to save the team. Blocks also became an effective weapon again to keep the team from getting far behind. Kim was quite satisfied with the Judges’ performance on defense: “I thought our defense is actually pretty good today. We have some strong blocks up there. Our middles worked very hard to defend and take some space away for our defense. I think defensewise, we just need to go out there and play our games because we have the ability in us to do well.”

But the Beavers never lowered their intensity as their energy gradually outlasted the Judges. Five straight points for Beavers after an 8-10 score gained them a safe lead to eventually win another set. And then the Judges weren’t able to rediscover their winning momentum as they fell short at the last set by 13-25.

Despite a tough loss, the Judges truly fought hard against the strong opponent. Kim felt positive about the team’s future: “Right now our objective is to push harder on finishing games. We are going back and forth with points. We just need to push a bit harder to get amount of points that we need.” Hopefully, this defeat along with other losses during this tough season could enrich the team’s experience to knit the players and the new head Coach Vaccari more firmly for the future seasons.