Women's Volleyball Blanks WPI, Prepares for NEWMAC Semifinals

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With a 25-15, 25-8, 25-23 victory over WPI in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship Tournament quarterfinal match on Tuesday, the MIT women's volleyball team clinched a spot in the semifinal round for the 13th straight season. No. 4-seeded MIT improved to 21-13 on the year and will face host and top seed Springfield College on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1:00 p.m. No. 5 WPI closed its season with a final record of 22-9.

In the opening set, WPI used an error, a kill from Kim Woodward and a block by Woodward and Alyssa Fidanza to go ahead, 6-5. The host Engineers responded with an 8-1 spurt which secured their lead for good. The visitors stayed within striking distance as Belinda Nwagbara's kill and an ace from Fidanza brought them within five (18-13). MIT countered by scoring seven of the last nine points to capture the set.

WPI trailed, 4-3, in the second stanza before MIT took control and closed out the frame with a 21-5 run.

The early stages of the third set were closely played until MIT used a 6-1 spurt to extend its advantage to 15-8. WPI slowly chipped away at the deficit and eventually narrowed the gap to 23-21. A strike by Rachel Hunt set up match point but Bailey Sarber's hit off the MIT block kept the visitors alive. WPI extended play courtesy of a block by Nwagbara and Woodward, however, it would not be enough as Kate Kelly's hit from the back row secured the win for MIT.

Sharon Hao compiled 11 assists, five digs, four aces, and three kills for MIT. Kelly Schulte and Tatiana Berger both had five kills while Jenny Li added four kills and three blocks. Kristine Bunker racked up seven blocks and three kills as Emma Gargus chipped in four kills. Trinity Leonard and Rachel Hunt rounded out the balanced attack with three kills while Cecily Joujon-Roche earned three aces. Katie Spielbauer collected a match-high 14 digs as Jess Fessler and Kelly finished with seven and six respectively. Alyssa Rothman bolstered the setting unit with 13 assists.

Woodward tallied 12 assists, eight digs, three kills, and two blocks for WPI. Nwagbara and Sarber both totaled four kills as Nwagbara contributed a block. Joan Porambo registered 10 digs and an ace while Elyssa Dorenfeld tacked on six digs and three kills. Fidanza rounded out the visiting Engineers with an ace and a block.