October 4, 2012

MIT Blanks WPI, Reaches 20-Win Mark

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT generated a late rally in the third set to clinch a 25-17, 25-14, 25-23 victory over WPI in a NEWMAC women's volleyball match on Thursday night. With the win MIT improved to 5-1 in conference play and 20-3 overall, marking its 17th straight 20-win season and 32nd in the 38-year history of the program. WPI, meanwhile, saw its ledger lower to 2-4 in the NEWMAC and 11-6 on the season.

MIT jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first set, but a pair of kills from seniors Kerrin Beovich (Seaford, N.Y.) and Elyssa Dorenfeld (Reading, Mass.) narrowed the gap to four (11-7) for WPI. Two kills by senior Trinity Leonard (Mill Valley, Calif.) sandwiched an ace from freshman Meryl Gibbs (Bellaire, Texas) to give MIT some breathing room as it eventually captured set point on another strike from Leonard following on overpass. WPI picked up the next three points to make the score 24-17; however, a service error kept the visitors from getting any closer.

Like the first set MIT built a 10-3 advantage in the second stanza which grew to 22-10. WPI capitalized on two aces from senior Alyssa Fidanza (Ellington, Conn.), a Beovich kill, and a hitting miscue to stop the run but MIT replied with three straight points, claiming the set on a strike by junior Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.).

WPI established a 7-3 lead in the third set, but MIT slowly chipped away at the deficit as it evened the score at 11 on a block by freshman Ada Taylor (Durham, N.C.) and sophomore Nicole Gagnier (Atlanta, Ga.) which resulted in a timeout by the visitors. Following the break, WPI converted a pair of miscues and an ace from senior Lauren D'Angelo (Wallingford, Conn.) to surge ahead. MIT matched the effort as Taylor collaborated on blocks with sophomore Jenny Astrachan (Austin, Texas) and Gibbs while picking up a point on a hitting error to knot the frame at 14.

Two more ties ensued until Gagnier's attack gave MIT its first lead at 19-18 and resulted in another timeout by WPI. Back-to-back kills from Dorenfeld sparked a 4-1 spurt which put WPI in front, 22-20. A serving error by the visitors cut MIT's deficit in half while another Taylor-Gagnier block created the eighth tie of the set. Taylor then teamed up with junior Tatiana Berger (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to deny the WPI attack on its next attempt as a hitting error resulted in match point. Senior Belinda Nwagbara (Santa Rosa, Calif.) extended the frame for WPI with a strike right after coming off the bench, but Berger's kill secured the victory.

Leonard finished with a match-high 11 kills while Gibbs tallied 10 kills and three aces. Taylor racked up nine blocks as Berger added three of her own. Senior Katie Spielbauer (Lakeview, Mich.) led the way with 19 digs as junior Sharon Hao (San Jose, Calif.) bolstered the defense with 10 digs. Senior Alyssa Rothman (Plainview, N.Y.) dished out 16 assists while Gagnier totaled eight assists in the third set.

Dorenfeld posted 10 kills and nine digs for WPI as D'Angelo collected 11 digs. Senior Bailey Sarber (Westerly, R.I.) tacked on nine digs while Nwagbara contributed six kills.

Both squads return to action on Friday, Oct. 12. MIT will begin the first day of its MIT Quad Tournament while WPI will travel to Patchogue, N.Y. for the St. Joseph's College Invitational.