Volleyball Drops Hard Fought Five Set Match to Bowdoin Friday Night

MEDFORD – Junior Brigid Bell tied her career-high with 18 kills and freshman Cate Desler finished with a career-high 16 kills and 12 digs, but it wasn't enough as the Tufts volleyball team dropped a nail biter to NESCAC-rival Bowdoin in five sets in Cousens Gym on Friday night. 

Rookie Cate Desler finished with a career-high 16 kills Friday night

The Jumbos fall to 6-4 overall and 2-1 with the loss. Bowdoin improves to a perfect 9-0 with the win and the Polar Bears are 3-0 in NESCAC play.  The loss is the first regular-season NESCAC loss for the Jumbos since they fell to Middlebury on October 31, 2015.  They had won 22 straight regular-season league games. 

The first set was close for the entire set, and was tied 15 different times.  Bowdoin took an early lead, but the Jumbos came back and tied it and the two teams would trade off like that for the entire first set.  After things were tied at 20, no team would lead the other by more than a point.  The Polar Bears got a kill from Sydney Salle to tie things at 25, but the Jumbos responded with a kill from junior Christina Nwankpa and then a service ace from Bell gave the Jumbos the 27-25 win in set one. 

The Jumbos took the early lead in set two, but the Polar Bears scored seven points behind the serve of Lisa Sheldon to take a five-point lead, 12-7.  The Jumbos would come within two, 19-17, but a Jumbo service error gave Bowdoin a three-point advantage and they moved on to a 25-20 win in set two to even the match at one. 

Set three was all Jumbos as Tufts took an early lead and built that lead the entire set on their way to a 25-14 win to take the 2-1 advantage in the match. 

It was the Polar Bears that took the early lead in set four, and about halfway through the set, they were leading by six, 13-7.  The Jumbos came back and tied things at 15 thanks to a kill from Nwankpa and a few Polar Bear errors. But, a Jumbo error gave the Polar Bears the lead again and they were leading 23-17 when the Jumbos made a comeback.  A kill from Desler, followed by two kills from Bell and then a kill from junior Rachel Furash brought the Jumbos within two, 23-21.  But, an attack error by the Jumbos and a service ace by Lisa Sheldon gave Bowdoin the win in set four to tie the match at two. 

The Jumbos took an early lead in set five, and they were ahead 12-8 late in the set when Bowdoin came to life.  A kill from Ashley Williams was followed by a Jumbo error and another kill from Williams.  Another Jumbo attack error evened the match at 12.  The Jumbos went ahead, 13-12, thanks to a kill from junior co-captain Maddie Stewart.  But, a Jumbo service error tied things at 13, and then the Polar Bears got two kills from Allyson Hawkins to take set five, 15-13. 

Bell finished with 18 kills and ten digs, and the 18 kills ties her career-high with the Jumbos.  Desler's 16 kills are a career-high for the rookie, and she added 12 digs to her efforts.  Nwankpa totaled 12 kills and three blocks, while senior co-captain Mackenzie Bright finished with nine kills.  Defensively, sophomore Sophia Acker finished with 16 digs.  Freshman Ariel Zedric added 11 digs and 17 assists, and Furash added 38 assists and six digs, along with two service aces. 

For the Polar Bears, Williams finished with 23 kills and Caroline Flaharty added 16 kills and 14 digs.  Cori Gray finished with six blocks, and Salle added eight kills and two blocks to the evening.  Defensively, Sheldon collected 26 digs and Emily King finished with 19 digs and three service aces.  Kate Kiser took care of the setting, finishing with 46 assists.  

The Jumbos will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to the JWU Invitational take on No. 4 Johnson & Wales at 1 pm and Roger Williams at 3 pm. Bowdoin will also play in the JWU Invitational on Saturday, taking on Scranton at 3 pm and No. 4 Johnson & Wales at 5 pm.