Volleyball Tops Bryant, Falls to Eastern Michigan to Wrap Up Brown Invite
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Junior Maddie Lord (La Jolla, Calif.) and freshman Payton Smith (Atherton, Calif.) combined for 27 kills between a 3-0 win over Bryant (25-18, 25-20, 25-17) and a straight set loss to Eastern Michigan (25-16, 25-20, 25-14) in day two of Brown Invitational action at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Saturday. The split moves the Bears to 2-5 on the season, while the Eagles improve to 7-4 and the Bulldogs drop to 0-9.
Lord and Smith represented the Bears on the All-Tournament Team, while the Eagles, unbeaten over two days of invitational action, were led by All-Tournament honorees Erin Short (Most Valuable Player) and Kelsey Jones. Sara DePouw of Bryant and Natalie Welsch of Holy Cross rounded out the standout performers from the weekend.
Lord sparked the offense with four aces on the day, while senior Alexandra Rieckhoff (Laguna Beach, Calif.) showed her diverse abilities with nine kills and 21 digs. Freshman setter Sarah Lucenti (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) posted 35 assists over two matches, and junior libero Kathryn Conner (Newport Beach, Calif.) dug deep for 29 digs.
A balanced offensive scheme propelled Brown to a straight set win over Bryant. Lord, Smith and junior Taylor Bantle (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) each registered eight kills, while Rieckhoff recorded seven and senior Thea Derrough (La Jolla, Calif.) finished with six. Lucenti recorded 19 assists for the third time this season and Conner notched 15 digs.
Claire Van Dyk had a match-high 12 kills for the Bulldogs and Jana Kmec tallied 24 assists. Sara DePouw rattled off five aces for Bryant to power a mini-rally in the first set, but it was not enough to overcome the Bears' .438 hitting percentage and authoritative 14 blocks.
Brown opened up a healthy lead on steady scoring in game one, pushing out to a 21-12 advantage before DePouw went on a tear from the service line to help the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 21-18. The Bears regrouped, however, and senior Amanda Nickel (Corona Del Mar, Calif.) rocketed two kills to go with a pair of Bulldog errors to seal the set.
Set two was all Brown in the early going as Rieckhoff and freshman Carly Wagenbach (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) spearheaded extended serving turns that thrust the Bears into a 13-7 advantage. The Bulldogs scraped their way back on a handful of Brown errors that narrowed the margin to 18-17, but four kills from four different Bears over the home stretch gave the hosts a 25-20 win in the second set.
Point-for-point exchange up until a 4-4 score gave way to a 7-0 Brown run that eventually found the Bears with a sizeable 21-12 lead. Lord fired a trio of aces to put the game out of reach and a Bryant serve into the net closed the book on Brown's second straight victory.
The Bears looked to carry their momentum into the invitational finale against a surging Eastern Michigan squad, but the Eagles proved too hot on the attack and too tough up front as the visitors won, 25-15, 25-20, 25-14. Eastern Michigan never trailed beyond the first point of the first two sets and finished with a .267 hitting percentage and an arresting 16 blocks.
Consecutive kills from Lord and a spike by Bantle kept things tight early on, but the Eagles consistently turned away Brown shots from the left side with dominant blocking and relentless digging. Offensively, Short and Jones tore through the set to power Eastern Michigan to a 25-15 victory.
It looked as though the Bears would even the match with a late rally in set two thanks to a pair of kills by freshman Clare Olivares (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and a well-struck ace from Lord that faced Brown with a 21-19 deficit. However, unforced errors by the Bears proved their undoing as three of the last four Eagle points came on miscues.
Eastern Michigan had no intention of entertaining a fourth set and blazed out to a double-digit lead without hesitation. Short and Jones continued to handle the aggressive attack and Natalie Folk pressured the Brown defense with two aces. The Bears mustered four unanswered points to turn a seemingly-insurmountable disadvantage into a 21-10 game, but the gap proved too wide as the Eagles sped away to their third win of the weekend.
The Bears return to tournament action next Friday when they take on Hofstra at the Temple Invitational at 4 p.m.
Brown Invitational All-Tournament Team
Brown – Maddie Lord, Jr., OH
Brown – Payton Smith, Fr., MB
Bryant – Sara DePouw, Fr., MB
Holy Cross – Natalie Welsch, Fr., RS
Eastern Michigan – Kelsey Jones, Jr., MB
Eastern Michigan - Erin Short, Sr., MB (Most Valuable Player)