Jeffs Kick Off Amherst Classic with 3-1 Win Over Brandeis

AMHERST, MA – Amherst College welcomed Brandeis University and Middlebury and Westfield State colleges for the 2008 Amherst Women's Volleyball Classic, with competition beginning Friday at 6 p.m. and set to conclude Saturday with a pair of 2 p.m. matches. The Lord Jeffs earned a grueling 3-1 win over Brandeis while Middlebury cruised to a 3-0 victory over Westfield State. 

Trailing 12-7 in the first set, Brandeis got its act together and stormed back to take a 16-15 lead, but it was neck-and-neck the rest of the way. The Jeffs regained the lead at 21-20 and managed to hang on for a thrilling 25-23 first-set victory, with first-year Katherine Kanoff (Pacific Palisades, CA) driving home the winning kill on a set from senior quad-captain Claire Holton-Basaldua (San Rafael, CA). 

With the teams deadlocked at 14-14 in the second set, the Judges took control and went on a 10-3 run en route to a 25-19 win to tie the match at one set apiece. Kanoff and sophomore Laura Hyman (Glencoe, IL) got Amherst going in the third set by combining for blocks on each of the Jeffs' first two points, with Hyman also closing out the set with a kill to seal her team's 25-17 win. 

Hyman continued to come up big at the right times, as her kill in the fourth set broke an 11-11 tie and ended what was one of the longest rallies of the night. After Hyman ignited a 3-0 run that was met by three straight points from the Judges, Amherst senior Alison Munzer (Beverly Hills, CA) capped off another 3-0 run with a booming spike to give the Jeffs a 17-14 advantage. 

Brandeis continued to find answers for every Amherst surge, as the teams found themselves knotted at 18-18 and 19-19 before the Judges regained the lead at 20-19. Sophomores Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA), Erin Camp (Santa Monica, CA) and Katherine Jordan (Los Altos Hills, CA) strung together some exceptional defensive plays late in the set to light a fire under the Lord Jeffs, who tied things up at 21-all on yet another timely Hyman kill. 

After a Brandeis ball-handling error gave Amherst a 24-23 lead, Hyman put the match away with her 13th kill of the night, marking a new career high for the sophomore middle hitter. Hyman added five total blocks and hit at an impressive .458 clip, while Kanoff and first-year Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, CA) chipped in with 14 kills and 13 kills, respectively. 

Camp, Yorke and Jordan combined for 34 digs and junior Bethany Belisle (Austin, TX) had 15 of her own, with Jordan adding a career-high 44 assists and three service aces. Kanoff was once again all over the court for Amherst, piling up six service aces and a career-high 15 digs. 

Junior tri-captain Piera Carfagno led the Brandeis attack with 14 kills, while sophomore Paige Blasco paced the defense with 25 digs. Junior Lauren Polinsky added 16 digs, senior tri-captain Violette Ruggiero had 39 assists and a pair of service aces, and sophomore Nicole Smith totaled six blocks to go along with her 10 kills.

The Lord Jeffs (10-1) will take on Middlebury (5-4) Saturday at 11 a.m. before wrapping up the Amherst Classic with a 2 p.m. match against Westfield State (5-4). Brandeis (8-3) will take on Westfield State at 11 a.m. before pairing up with Middlebury at 2 p.m.