CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The MIT women’s
volleyball team fought off formidable New England Women’s and
Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) foe Babson College, 25-14,
26-24, 25-20, on Tuesday night. With the win, the Engineers
improved to 22-5 on the year and 7-0 in conference action while the
Beavers dipped to 12-10 overall and 4-3 in the NEWMAC.
MIT established a 10-5 lead in the opening frame, which Babson trimmed to three courtesy of a back row hit from Nina Milovanovic and a miscue by the hosts. This was as close as it would get as the Cardinal and Gray mounted a 14-4 run to take control of the game. The Beavers capitalized on three straight errors by the Engineers to extend the frame, but a strike from Jenny Li secured the first set victory.
Babson inched out to a 4-1 edge and maintained a small cushion for most of the second stanza. MIT slowly chipped away at the deficit as a block by Cecily Joujon-Roche evened the game at 13. The Beavers picked up the next point, but the Engineers recorded the next five for their first lead of the set. Babson stayed within striking distance, registering four consecutive points, including back-to-back aces by Meg Flaherty, to tie the score at 21. Each side posted a pair of points until a service error resulted in set point for MIT. Following their own timeout, the Beavers knotted the contest at 24 on a Milovanovic hit that bounced off MIT’s block. The Engineers wrapped up the frame on a strike from Alex May and a block by Joujon-Roche and Li.
Babson opened the third set with seven unanswered points and went on to hold a 17-13 advantage. MIT’s senior class responded with six straight points to capture the lead. Barden Cleeland ignited the spurt with a pair of kills and then collaborated with May on a block that evened the frame at 17. Cathy Melnikow’s solid serving throughout the rally yielded all three of her aces. Milovanovic brought the Beavers within one (19-18), but the Engineers countered with four consecutive points. Each side traded points as Milovanovic kept Babson alive with a tip and a back row hit until Li recorded her third set point of the night.
May posted a double-double on 13 kills and 13 digs as Cleeland notched 10 kills and three blocks. Joujon-Roche registered nine kills and five blocks while Li racked up five kills and five blocks. In addition to her timely trio of aces, Melnikow added seven digs. Alyssa Rothman tallied 38 assists and three aces as Katie Spielbauer and Anna Dikina rounded out the defense with eight and six digs, respectively.
Milovanovic posted a match-high 15 kills to go along with five digs. Flaherty compiled 14 digs and eight kills while Shanna Glassner bolstered the back row with 14 digs. Kathleen Lynch distributed 27 assists for the Beavers.
Next up for MIT will be the Hall of Fame Tournament held Oct. 23-24. Babson will do battle at the Western Connecticut State University Tournament on the same dates.