Volleyball puts up a fight, falls 3-1 to top-seeded Tufts in NESCAC quarterfinals

Jacqueline Forney (left) posted 31 assists and 16 digs in her final match for the Bobcats in a 3-1 loss to Tufts Nov. 3, 2017 in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Also concluding an exceptional season, first-year Angel Echipue (right) had a team-high nine kills. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

MEDFORD, Mass. -- The Bates College volleyball team put up a spirited fight but ultimately fell by a 3-1 (25-16, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19) score to top-seeded host Tufts University Friday in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Championship tournament.

The Bobcats (12-14) end the season with a third straight postseason appearance in the NESCAC tournament. Bates' 12 wins were its most since 2009.

Tufts (21-5), on the heels of a 10-0 run through NESCAC opponents this season, will host the semifinals on Saturday and face the winner of Friday night's quarterfinal between No. 4 Hamilton and No. 5 Amherst.

Tufts controlled the first set, but Bates went toe-to-toe with the top-seeded Jumbos in dropping the second set 25-23 and taking the third set by the same score. The Bobcats attacked at a .303 percentage in the third set, the most by either team in the match.

Bates faced a 24-15 deficit in the fourth set but scored four points in a row to make it 24-19, compelling Tufts to call a timeout. Sophomore Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) served an ace to finish off the late run, which included a kill by first-year Ruby Lightbourn (Los Angeles, Calif.) and strong defense leading to consecutive Tufts attack errors.

Brigid Bell led six Jumbos with eight or more kills in the match, putting down 15 in 38 attempts (.263) and adding 12 digs. Mackenzie Bright and Sophia Acker added 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Rachel Furash and Angela Yu set up Jumbo hitters with 26 and 20 assists, respectively, and Kelly Klimo led the match with 32 digs.

Bates senior captain Jacqueline Forney (Bloomington, Ind.) totaled 31 assists, 16 digs, three kills and one block in her final match. Forney put up career-best numbers this season in assists (9.62 per set), digs (2.80), and blocks (0.35). Senior Augy Silver (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) pitched in with nine digs in her final match.

Sophomore Gabi Eustache (New York, N.Y.) led the Bobcats with 20 digs. Sophomore Taylor Stafford-Smith (Calabasas, Calif.) added 16 digs with eight kills, and sophomore Panepinto contributed 11 digs.

First-year Angel Echipue (Munich, Germany) led Bates hitters with nine kills and five blocks. Stafford-Smith had eight kills, first-year Delaney Mayfield (Santa Barbara, Calif.) added seven kills, and Lightbourn and junior Claire Naughton (Darien, Conn.) added six kills apiece.