CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With a 25-19, 25-20,
25-21 victory over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the MIT
women’s volleyball team earned a spot in the New England
Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)
Championship Tournament Final for the second time in three years.
The top-seeded Engineers (27-7) will take on No. 2 Wellesley
College in the title match on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Alex May posted a match-high 21 kills to go along with eight digs, and three blocks for the Cardinal and Gray. Katie Spielbauer anchored the defense with 17 digs as Kelly Schulte notched nine kills and two blocks. Barden Cleeland and Cecily Joujon-Roche each had three blocks while Cleeland tacked on six kills. Jenny Li bolstered the attack with six kills as Alyssa Rothman tallied 34 assists, six digs, and two aces. Natasha Jensen rounded out the Engineers with seven digs and one ace.
Lauren Bloch led Coast Guard (25-5) with 12 kills as Nicole Johnson added eight of her own. Karen Matic compiled 21 assists and six kills while Jessica Anderson racked up 16 digs.
MIT inched out to an 8-5 lead in the opening frame. The Bears battled back to even the contest at 11. After an exchange of points, Coast Guard went ahead, 15-14, on a kill by Matic. Each side traded points until the Engineers registered an 8-1 run which resulted in a comfortable 23-17 cushion. After exchanging sideouts, a kill by Schulte closed the set.
A hitting error gave the Bears their first point of the second stanza, but MIT captured the next three. The majority of the frame was closely played as Coast Guard came within one on seven occasions, the last at 15-14. The Engineers posted a 5-1 spurt, which was matched by the Bears to once again narrow the gap to one (21-20). MIT responded by scoring the final four points, capturing the game on a block by Cleeland and Schulte.
The Engineers jumped out to a 5-1 advantage in the final set. Coast Guard slowly chipped away at the deficit, eventually claiming an 8-7 edge. MIT picked up the next three points to reclaim the lead, but the Bears quickly evened the score at 11. Sparked by back-to-back hits from May, the Engineers mounted a 7-2 run to gain some breathing room. Coast Guard notched six out of the next eight points, with a kill by Johnson bringing it within one (20-19). Each side picked up a pair of points before three consecutive errors by the Bears ended the match.