MEDFORD – Senior Christina Nwankpa turned in 12 kills and three blocks and sophomore Cate Desler finished with 11 kills, five digs and a couple of blocks and the top-seeded Tufts volleyball team topped fifth-seeded Middlebury in NESCAC Semifinal action in Cousens Gym on Saturday afternoon. With the win the Jumbos advance to the conference championship final scheduled to start at noon on Sunday.
|Senior Christina Nwankpa was lights out with 12 kills and a .733 hitting percentage.|
The Jumbos improve to 26-1 with the win. Middlebury's season comes to a close with a 15-10 record.
The two teams traded points early in the first set. Ahead by one, 7-6, the Jumbos got behind the serve of senior Heather Holz and scored seven straight points, including kills from senior Brigid Bell and junior Jennifer Ryan and two kills from Nwankpa. The Jumbos held onto that lead for a 25-17 win in set one.
Tufts scored the first four points of the second set and after scoring six points with freshman Stephanie Lee scoring, the Jumbos were ahead 13-2. Middlebury wasn't able to get back in it, and the Jumbos took a two-set lead with a 25-10 win in set two.
The Jumbos and the Panthers traded points to open the third set. Once again the Jumbos got behind the serve of Lee and scored five to take a 6-2 lead. The Panthers got back in it and tied things at 11 and then took a 14-11 lead thanks to a Jumbo error and a couple of aces from Shea Golden. Tufts tied things and then took the lead back after a Panther error and a couple of kills from Desler. The Panthers would cut the lead to one, 19-18, but that's as close as they got and the Jumbos won the third set, 25-20.
Nwankpa's 12 kills led the offense. She finished with a .733 hitting percentage, with only one error and 15 total attempts. Desler added 11 kills, along with five digs and a couple of blocks. Senior Maddie Stewart added six kills and a couple of blocks. Ryan finished with six kills and Bell added five kills and a team-high ten digs. Defensively Bell's digs led the efforts. Lee turned in eight digs and four service aces and senior Rachel Furash added eight digs. Furash and sophomore Ariel Zedric ran the offense, finishing with 20 and 15 assists, respectively.
Corley Doyle led the Panther offense with seven kills and she also finished with two blocks. Golden and Jaime Donnelly each turned in five kills. Maggie Wise and Jane Nelson each added four kills. Defensively Gigi Alper turned in nine digs. Chelsea Ferdinand and Emma Walsh took care of the setting, as Ferdinand collected 14 assists and Walsh tallied ten.
The Jumbos will face off with the winner of Saturday's other semifinal between Bowdoin and Wesleyan on Sunday at noon.