NCAA Quarterfinals: Southwestern 3, Tufts 2

NCAA Quarterfinals: Southwestern 3, Tufts 2

Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information

OSHKOSH, Wis. – The Tufts University volleyball team rallied from two sets down to force a deciding fifth-set in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. However, Southwestern (Texas) was able to pull out a win in the deciding set, 15-13, en route to a 3-2 victory at the Kolf Sports Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

2016 NCAA Tournament Division III Bracket 

The Pirates (34-4), who have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the last 12 seasons, move on to face Washington University-St. Louis (25-10) or Mary Washington (31-3) in the semifinals on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The Jumbos, who advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history, see their season come to an end with a 27-4 record. Tufts defeated Maine Maritime Academy, 3-0, in the first round, UMass-Boston, 3-1, in the second round and Springfield, 3-1, in the regional final. The Jumbos also reached the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament in 2009 season under five-time NESCAC Coach of the Year Cora Thompson.

The Pirates claimed an early 4-1 lead in the fifth set on a kill by Piper Sisemore. A kill by Mackenzie Bright of the Jumbos trimmed the Pirates' advantage to 9-8. The Pirates tallied four consecutive points, as they took a 13-8 lead. The Jumbos responded with a 5-1 run, as a kill by captain Elizabeth Ahrens trimmed the Southwestern's lead to 14-13. Sisemore answered, as she tallied the match-clinching kill for the Pirates, giving them a 15-13 win in the final set.

The Jumbos were led by Ahrens (10 kills, eight digs), Brigid Bell (22 digs, 13 kills), Alexandra Garrett (22 digs), Heather Holz (nine kills), Maddie Stewart (eight kills), Angela Yu (match-high 28 assists, 23 digs), Bright (10 kills), Rachel Furash (13 assists) and Kelly Klimo (match-high 34 digs).

Jamison Duck registered a match-high 19 kills for the Pirates, while she also tallied a team-high 31 digs. The squad also received strong performances from Kate Mitchell (13 kills), Sisemore (14 kills), Haley Yu (nine kills, seven digs), Nikki Welch (26 assists, 18 digs), Andie Alford (30 digs) and Sydney Rochelle (26 assists).  

After losing the first two sets, the Tufts came out with energy in the third, as it built a 12-3 lead on a kill by Furash. A kill by Bell gave the Jumbos a 23-11 advantage, and then the Pirates responded with a 9-0 spurt, trimming the deficit to 23-20. The Jumbos recorded back-to-back points, as Ahrens recorded the game-clinching kill, giving the Jumbos a 25-20 victory in the third set.

The fourth was tied, 6-6, on a kill by Duck, but Tufts took a 12-9 advantage on a kill by Bright. The Pirates battled to the end of the fourth, as a kill by Yu trimmed the Jumbos' lead to 22-20. Tufts scored three of the next four points, as a kill by Holz gave the Jumbos a 25-21 victory in the must-win fourth set.

The two teams treated the fans to a back-and-forth brand of volleyball in the opening set, as Tufts built a 5-2 advantage on a kill by Holz. The Pirates responded with a 4-0 run, to take a 6-5 lead on a kill by Sisemore. A kill by Bell evened the score, 10-10, and Ahrens registered a kill for the Jumbos, to level the score again at, 17-17. Southwestern posted a 22-20 lead on a kill by Sisemore, and closed the set with three consecutive points, as a kill by Duck gave the Pirates a 25-21 victory in the first set.

The second set was a highly-contested battle. Duck's kill evened the scored at 7-7 and each team scored six points to knot the set up at 13-13. A kill by Holz gave the Tufts a two-point lead, 20-18. The Pirates responded with a 7-1 spurt, giving them a 25-21 victory in the set on a service ace.

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