WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Brandeis University volleyball team opened its 2021 season - their first match in two years - by defeating the visiting Suffolk University Rams, 3-0. Set scores were 25-14, 25-15, 26-24. Brandeis improves to 1-0 on the season, while Suffolk falls to 0-1.
The Judges displayed a balanced attack, with five players registering between four and eight kills. Leading the way was senior Emerson White (Lexington, Ky./Sayre), who had eight kills and two errors in 17 attempts (.353) and rookie Lara Verstovsek (Bellaire, Texas/Episcopal), who had seven kills and two errors in 15 attempts (.267). Seniors Kaisa Newberg (Reno, Nev./Sage Ridge School), Stephanie Borr (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) , and Belle Scott (Portland, Ore./Portland Episcopal School) finished with six, five, and four kills, respectively, and each hit better than .300.
Sophomore Ines Grom-Mansenecal (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wyoming) directed the offense with 26 assists as the team's setter. Senior Kaitlyn Oh (Santa Clara, Calif./Cupertino) led the defensive effort with eight digs, while Scott, Verstovsek and sophomore Ella Pereira (Redondo Beach, Calif./Rolling Hills Prep) had seven apiece.
Suffolk was paced by Jasmine James's seven kills and Harmony Johnson's 11 assists. McKenna Keown had seven digs for the visitors.
Brandeis was never threatened in the first two sets. The Judges took the opener, 25-14, as they had 16 kills without an error in 30 attacks for a .533 team hitting percentage. In the second set, Brandeis jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 25-15 victory. The third set looked to be more of the same when the Judges took a 4-0 lead and maintained it through a 12-9 advantage. At that point, Suffolk went on a 6-2 run to take a 15-14 lead, their first since early in the first set. Neither team could pull away, thought it looked like the Rams might force a fourth set when they went up 22-20 on a Jayla Martinez service ace. Brandeis answered back when the visitors committed errors on their next three points, including a block by White and Verstovsek that gave Brandeis a 23-22 lead. Suffolk fought back to win the next two points, earning them a tiebreaker at 24-24, but the Rams couldn't finish off the Judges, who took the 26-24 win in the third.
Brandeis is back in action this weekend, kicking off the Springfield Invitational with a match against the host Pride on Friday at noon.