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Cardinals Rally from 2-0 Deficit to Defeat Tufts in Five Sets

Photo Courtesy of Jonas Powell '18
Photo Courtesy of Jonas Powell '18

-- Recap courtesy of Tufts Athletic Communications --

MEDFORD, Mass. – Trailing 2-0, the Wesleyan University volleyball team rallied to defeat Tufts in its 2018 regular-season finale, 3-2 in Cousens Gym on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, the Cardinals finish the regular season with a 16-4 overall record and 9-1 mark in the NESCAC to secure the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. The 9-1 league ledger ties a program record, joining the 2001 team that owns the best overall mark in program history at 30-6. For the Jumbos, the loss drops Tufts to 15-9 overall and 6-4 in the NESCAC to take the fifth-seed.   

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS:

  • After Wesleyan scored the first two points in set one, the Jumbos scored six straight behind the serve of Brigid Bell to take a 6-2 lead. Ahead 8-5, the Jumbos got behind the serve of Cate Desler and scored six more points to lead 14-5. Their last run would be on the serve of Heather Holz, as the Jumbos scored seven points to take a 22-7 lead and moved on to a 25-10 win. 
  • Set two was very different as the two teams traded points, and the lead, as the score was tied 12 times with neither team putting together anything more than a three-point lead. With the score locked at 18, the Jumbos got a kill from Holz and then a kill from Jennifer Ryan to take a 20-18 advantage. The Cardinals came within one, 20-19, but that's as close as they would come as the Jumbos held on for a 25-20 win in set two to go ahead 2-0 in the match. 
  • Wesleyan came out of the break on fire and scored the first nine points of the third frame. The Cardinals held that lead for most of the set. Down 23-14, the Jumbos started a comeback, getting a kill from Holz, an ace from Desler, a kill from Desler and then two kills from Mackenzie Bright brought the Jumbos within four, 23-19.  But, the Cardinals got a kill from Nicole Hilton and then a kill from Madeleine Lundberg gave them the 25-19 win. 
  • The Cardinals and Jumbos traded points early in the fourth. With the score locked at four, the Cardinals scored five points behind the serve of Grace Rose to take a 9-4 lead. After two Jumbo points, Wesleyan would go on a 4-0 run to increase its lead to seven, 13-6.  The Cardinals held on to that lead to pick up a 25-14 victory in set four to tie the match at two. 
  • Ahead in the fifth set, 5-4, the Cardinals got three kills from Graves and then another from Hilton to take a 9-4 lead. Trailing 11-5, the Jumbos started a comeback getting two kills from both Bell and Christina Nwankpa and a Cardinal error brought them within two, 12-10.  But the Cardinals got two kills from Lundberg and another from Mia Jago to claim a 15-11 win and seal the come-from-behind win. 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Wesleyan hit .237 as a team as Stasie Litinsky led the way with 13 kills. Graves and Lundberg each totaled nine with a .444 attack clip. Kaira Muraoka-Robertson recorded a double-double with 33 assists and 12 digs, and Phia Bellizzi recorded 23 digs to lead the defense. Lundberg finished with 10 digs of her own and three block assists.
  • Tufts was led by Maddie Stewart and Desler with 16 and 13 kills, respectively. Rachel Furash dished out 33 assists and led the defense, alongside Desler, with nine digs each. The Jumbos hit .191 as a unit.

UP NEXT:

  • Wesleyan resumes play next Friday, Nov. 2 for NESCAC Quarterfinal action at Bowdoin as the Cardinals begin their title defense. Earning the No. 2 seed, they will play No. 7 Bates at 5 p.m. Check back with athletics.wesleyan.edu or subscribe to the Wesleyan Front Row app for more details which will be announced next week.