Despite an initial No. 6 seeding in last weekend’s University Athletic Association Championships, the UR volleyball team banded together to defeat tough division rivals and achieve a fifth place finish.

Starting with pool play on Friday, the Yellowjackets first played the New York University Violets, who went on to place third in the tournament, losing a tough match 24-30, 20-30 and 13-30.

Junior and captain Susan Johnson and freshman Jessica Rassmussen each dug out nine Violet attacks. Sophomore Jessica Sorrentino notched five kills and senior Kate Czarniak added three blocks. Junior Sam Carr assisted on 12 of the Yellowjackets’ kills.

Next, the Yellowjackets faced the eventual champions of the tournament, the Emory University Eagles. The skill of the Eagles showed as the Yellowjackets fell 23-30, 15-30 and 12-30.

In the match against the Eagles, Carr assisted on 17 kills, six of which belonged to Johnson. Johnson also dug out 10 while Sorrentino added 13 digs of her own.

The final match of Friday’s competition was against the hosts, the Brandeis University Judges, who tied for seventh in the tournament. In a similar outcome to their previous match against the Judges, the Yellowjackets were victorious with scores of 30-28, 30-25, 27-30 and 30-27.

Junior Andrea Wagonseller tallied nine kills and 20 digs in the win over the Judges. Johnson killed 26 and dug 31 and Czarniak added 16 kills. Sorrentino and senior Haley Massa each blocked four. Carr assisted 49 of the kills, as well as digging out 18 of the Judges’ attacks.

With their pool play record at 1-2, the Yellowjackets found themselves third in their pool, pitting them against the University of Chicago Maroons for the first match of elimination play. Chicago was ranked No. 5 going into the tournament, with UR at No. 6 and the tough competition made the game exciting.

The Yellowjackets came out on top of the Maroons 30-21, 30-19 and 30-27. Having lost to the Maroons in round-robin play earlier in the season, playing well and winning when it counted was especially sweet.

Wagonseller contributed eight kills and 17 digs in the win over Chicago. Sorrentino added another six kills and 12 digs. Czarniak killed 10 and blocked four. Johnson tallied 11 kills, 22 digs and three aces versus the Maroons. Carr assisted 30 kills and dug out 15 Maroon attacks.

After knocking the Maroons out of the tournament and into a tie for seventh place, the Yellowjackets headed to the fifth place match versus Case Western Reserve University. Just like when the two faced off at Case Western’s home court in Cleveland, UR swept the match 30-16, 30-14 and 30-23, and took fifth place in the UAA.

“The CWRU game was one of the best games we have everplayed as a team,” said Sorrentino. “It was so intense and fun with the crowd full of family and alumni cheering us on.”

Carr totaled 38 assists, seven kills and 19 digs. Johnson added another 18 kills and 20 digs. Sophomore Kaitlyn Gorczynski dug out 24 Spartan attacks. Massa killed six and blocked seven, and Sorrentino killed four and blocked four. Czarniak tallied eight kills and two blocks, while Wagonseller added seven kills and ten digs.

“We’re feeling great about having placed fifth in the tournament, considering the top three teams in our conference are in the top four in the country for Division III,” Rasmussen said. “We played well against some tough teams, and fifth is something to be proud of.”

Selections for the All New York State Team were made and announced at the State Championships held at Ithaca College. Two juniors, Johnson and Carr, were named to the team.

Johnson, who became nominated as part of the New York State First Team for the third consecutive year, led UR in kills with 619 going into last weekend’s UAA championships. She adds 650 digs, 38 blocks, 25 aces and five assists to her power play. Johnson was also named to All-New York Region by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Carr received Honorable Mention honors in her first year setting for the Yellowjackets. Going into this weekend’s play at Brandeis, Carr had totaled 1,016 assists, or 9.58 per game. Moreover, she had accumulated 411 digs – second on the team to Johnson – 25 blocks and 11 kills.

“If anyone on the team deserves those honors, Susan and Sam do,” freshman Jamie Landry said. “They are great team players, and the combination of their skills and knowledge makes them a force to be reckoned with.”

The Yellowjackets head into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Upstate New York Championships this weekend with a record of 24-14 and the top seed in the tournament.

Winn can be reached at

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