Tufts volleyball swept Roger Williams Wednesday night in its season opener after a 662-day hiatus from competitive play. The Jumbos won 3–0 to the visiting Hawks. A combination of junior and senior leadership with some sophomore additions worked together on the court for a night of dynamic success. Despite several long, competitive points and many rallies with the Hawks, the squad held early leads in each set, securely winning each (25–10, 25–17, 25–14). Fifth-year senior middle hitter and co-captain Jennifer Ryan said being back on the court felt amazing and that she is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“There is no other way to describe how I feel besides just extreme excitement,” Ryan said. “It’s been a long time coming. It’s going to be a lot of fun to finally compete. We got to practice a lot last year, scrimmaging each other, so finally seeing a new team across the court that we haven’t seen before is just really great.”
Statistically, the entire Tufts roster contributed, especially junior outside hitter Jennelle Yarwood, who led the Jumbos in points, recording nine, in addition to seven digs. Junior libero Stephanie Lee and senior setter Ariel Zedric both led the team in digs, recording eight each. Senior outside hitter and co-captain Cate Desler co-led the team in kills and kills per set with an impressive six kills, averaging three kills per set and putting up a .556 hitting percentage. Desler commented on her team’s cohesion throughout the match.
“No matter what Roger Williams was throwing at us, I thought we adapted well on court,” Desler said. “With the different lineups we were showing them, I think our communication stayed great throughout the entire game, same with our energy levels. Everyone put their best foot forward and really did a great job.”
In all three sets, the Jumbos constantly changed the lineup and allowed for nearly the entire roster to get playing time. The roster is composed of exactly half underclassmen and half upperclassmen, and few players with much collegiate experience. But, the team’s early leads and the high-skill level throughout its roster allowed for many sophomores to be able to contribute greatly to the wins. In her collegiate debut, sophomore outside hitter Tori Goldin recorded an impressive six kills. She said her team’s strong chemistry made her feel welcomed and encouraged during the match.
“We have such great team chemistry and such a great support system so everyone just made me feel super comfortable being on the court,” Goldin said. “Eighteen girls is a lot of different personalities, but we just work together incredibly well. We bring a lot of energy to the court which is really fun to see. I think when you’re watching you can just tell how much fun we have playing out there with each other.”
The team trained through the summer and started preseason in August in order to build team chemistry and hone in on their skills. The players’ devotion paid off in Wednesday night’s match as the Jumbos appeared to play together as if no time had passed.
“During preseason we’ve been working a lot on individual portions — blocking, swinging, passing, serving — and tonight it was really great to see it all come together,” Ryan said.
While the team is looking forward to an expectedly long season ahead of them, they are taking it game by game and shared excitement for what is to come. Their game today kicks off the weekend-long Tufts Invitational in Cousens Gym.