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Volleyball takes on Tufts in NESCACs today; watch the Bobcats!

MEDFORD, Mass. -- The Bates College volleyball team competes in the NESCAC Championship for the first time since 2004 this evening at Tufts University, when the No. 8 seed Bobcats (15-17, 2-8 NESCAC) take on the top-seeded Tufts University Jumbos (27-2, 10-0 NESCAC). The match starts at 5 p.m. and can be viewed for free on the Internet at JumboCast.com.

The Bobcats hosted the Jumbos earlier this season on Sept. 19, a 3-1 win for the Jumbos. Bates has achieved its best season since 2004 thanks to a mix of first-year talent with veterans who have raised their games to new levels.

Among the newcomers, Grace Haessler (Portland, Ore.) has stepped into the starting setter's role from the first day of the season and turned in an impressive rookie season, passing out 8.50 assists per set, good for sixth in the conference, while also notching a team-high 55 service aces. Middle blocker Olivia Schow (Costa Mesa, Calif.) emerged as the second-most efficient attacker on the team, notching 1.84 kills per set with an attack percentage of .255. Right side Chrissy Gee (San Francisco, Calif.) has also been a promising contributor.

Among the veterans, senior middle blocker Beth Billington (St. Paul, Minn.), junior outside hitter Tess Dokus (Salem, Conn.) and junior middle blocker Avery Masters (Mill Valley, Calif.) have all turned in arguably the best seasons of their careers. Billington led the Bobcats and ranked sixth in the NESCAC in hitting percentage (.289) and fifth in blocks per set (0.80). Dokus led the squad in kills per set (2.22, hitting at a solid .226 rate, and Masters was close to the same numbers, with 1.93 kills per set and a .222 hitting percentage. Junior Liz Leberman (Concord, N.H.), a team co-captain along with Billington, has been a consistent presence on serve reception, taking over one-third of all receiving attempts at a solid .886 percentage, while also ranking second on the team in digs (2.83/set) and second in kills per set (2.09). Junior Kira Kramlich (San Francisco, Calif.) has paced the back row with a team-high 3.22 digs per set.

Read the NESCAC Volleyball Championship preview release and keep up with tournament scores at www.nescac.com.