WELLESLEY, Mass. – No. 3 seed MIT battled No. 2 Springfield College for a 29-27, 25-21, 18-25, 25-21 victory in the semifinal round of the NEWMAC women's volleyball tournament on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Engineers (29-5) will take on top seed and host Wellesley College in the title match on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. MIT will be making its first championship appearance since 2009 after falling to the Pride in the semifinals the past two years.
In the first set, the Pride built a 7-2 advantage which grew to 17-10. MIT countered with a 12-5 run to claim its first lead of the day, but an error and a Springfield ace evened the score at 22. Kills by sophomore Morgan Stewart (Powell, Ohio) and junior Tatiana Berger (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) put the Engineers up, 24-22; however, back-to-back errors extended the frame. Both sides went on to trade points until a service error and hitting miscue gave MIT the win.
The Cardinal and Gray built a 5-2 lead in the second stanza, but Springfield battled back to tie the set at eight. Following eight ties and two lead changes, kills by junior Kristine Bunker (Falmouth, Mass.) and Berger along with a Bunker ace put MIT in front, 19-16. The Pride picked up five of the next six points to reclaim the lead, but the Engineers rattled off the final five points to win the set. Freshman Ada Taylor (Durham, N.C.) produced a kill that resulted in set point and then finished it off with a solo block.
Springfield jumped out to a 7-3 margin and maintained a comfortable cushion for the majority of the third set. MIT battled back as kills by Bunker and Morgan trimmed the deficit to one (19-18) but this was as close as it would get as the Pride ended the frame with six straight points.
In the final frame, Springfield held a 6-2 advantage which was erased by a 16-4 run by the Engineers. The Pride recorded the next four points to narrow the gap to four on the first of three occasions, the last at 22-18. Kills by Taylor and freshman Meryl Gibbs (Bellaire, Texas) brought MIT to match point; however, two errors and an ace kept Springfield alive. The Engineers then sealed the victory courtesy of a blast by Bunker.
Bunker powered MIT with 16 kills, a .316 hitting percentage, and three blocks while Taylor totaled 12 kills, a .455 hitting effort, and five blocks. Berger generated 11 kills as Gibbs posted nine kills and four blocks. Senior Katie Spielbauer (Lakeview, Mich.) led the way with 28 digs, followed by 13 from freshman Lindsey Wang (Cupertino, Calif.) and 11 from junior Sharon Hao (San Jose, Calif.). Senior Alyssa Rothman (Plainview, N.Y.) compiled 53 assists, 13 digs, and two aces while classmate Trinity Leonard (Mill Valley, Calif.) registered 14 digs and two aces.