Volleyball Picks Up Come-From-Behind Win Over No. 15 Wesleyan Saturday Afternoon

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - After falling in the first set the Tufts volleyball team won the second and third set in extra points and the fourth set easily as they picked up a come-from-behind 3-1 win over No. 15 Wesleyan on the road on Saturday afternoon.  The Jumbos were led by sophomore Cate Desler who finished with 15 kills, 18 digs and four blocks. 

Senior Rachel Furash matched her career-high with 45 assists Saturday

With the win Tufts moves to 9-0 over this season and 2-0 in NESCAC play.  The loss is the first of the season for Wesleyan, who is now 7-1 overall and 1-1 in NESCAC contests. 

The Cardinals grabbed an early lead in the first set and held on to it for a bit.  Down 17-13 the Jumbos got a couple kills from junior Jennifer Ryan and then another from senior Brigid Bell.  After a Cardinal point the Jumbos took advantage of a Cardinal service error and then another kill from Ryan tied things at 18.  But, the Cardinals answered with six straight points behind the serve of Olivia Guidotti and picked up a 25-21 win in set one. 

The two teams traded points for the first half of the second set.  With the score locked at 13 the Jumbos got behind the serve of junior Sophia Acker and scored five straight points to take an 18-13 lead.   The Cardinals chipped away at the lead and tied things at 23 with an ace from Guidotti and then took a one-point lead thanks to a kill from Gabby Bennett.  

But, the Jumbos answered with a kills from Bell and senior Maddie Stewart to take the lead back, 25-24.  After another Bennett kill tied things at 25 for the Cardinals, the Jumbos got two kills from Desler to pick up a 27-25 win in set two to even the match at one. 

The Cardinals grabbed an early lead in the third set and were leading 11-4 early.  The Jumbos slowly worked their way back into it, but weren't able to tie things until 22.  A kill from Harper Graves put the Cardinals ahead, but then a Cardinal error tied things again at 23.  After a kill from Stasie Litinsky, the Cardinals were a point away from taking set three.  But, the Jumbos tied things at 24 thanks to a kill from Desler.  After a Cardinal error put them ahead by one, freshman Stephanie Lee served an ace that won set three, 26-24 for the Jumbos. 

It was all Tufts in the fourth set as the Jumbos jumped out to an early 9-1 lead. They won set four 25-16 to win the match, 3-1. 

Desler's 15 kills, career-high 18 digs and four blocks led the Jumbos.  Stewart finished with 12 kills, five digs and two blocks.  Ryan tallied a career-high 11 kills and added five digs and three blocks.  Bell finished with nine kills and nine digs.  Senior Christina Nwankpa also helped with nine kills and a couple of blocks.  Defensively, Desler's 18 digs were a team-high.  Senior Rachel Furash helped with 15, Lee turned in 16 and Acker added ten.  Furash also matched her career-high with 45 assists.  Sophomore Ariel Zedric helped with the setting, finishing with ten assists. 

The Cardinals has five different players with double-digit kills.  Litinsky was the leader with 15, while Bella Ahearn finished with 13, Harper Graves added 11 and Bennett and Nicole Hilton each tallied ten.  Hilton also added four blocks and Graves added 14 digs and three blocks to her day.  Defensively Kiara Muraoka-Robertson was the leader with 18 digs, but Jenna Otaola and Phia Bellizzi each added 17 digs.  Muraoka-Roberston took care of a majority of the setting, finishing with 45 assists. 

The Jumbos play again on Friday when they host Bowdoin for a 7 pm start.  Wesleyan plays again on Thursday when they host Connecticut College with a scheduled 6 pm start.