MIT Defeats Smith in NEWMAC Quarterfinals

Junior Nicole Gagnier

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In the quarterfinals of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship Tournament, the MIT women's volleyball team defeated Smith College, 25-13, 25-15, 25-23, on Tuesday evening. With the win, Tech (22-10) will advance to the semifinals and will face top-seeded Springfield College on Saturday, Nov. 9. The Pioneers ended their season with a record of 21-8.

Freshman Megan Gebhard (Howell, Mich.) led the Engineers with her 10 kills, 12 digs and five aces, while senior Tatiana Berger (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) tallied a match-high 13 kills. Junior Nicole Gagnier (Atlanta, Ga.) added 37 assists, two aces, four digs and two blocks and senior Emma Gargus (Columbus, Ohio) had five kills and six blocks. Senior Sharon Hao (San Jose, Calif.) added five digs, while classmate Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) had six kills and two blocks. Senior Kristine Bunker (Falmouth, Mass.) tacked on eight kills in the win and freshman Tori Wuthrich (Gross Pointe Woods, Mich.) contributed 14 digs and three aces.

Senior Paige Sarlandt (Cloverdale, Calif.) led Smith with eight kills, three digs and four blocks and classmate Bethany Ashworth (North Falmouth, Mass.) tallied 14 assists, two kills, four digs and a block. Fellow senior Rosa Drummond (Rye, N.H.) added on five kills, two aces and two blocks and freshman Julie Voorhes (Ramona, Calif.) had 12 digs. Sophomore Mei-Li Smith (Cypress, Calif.) had five digs and two blocks and senior Sonia Brown (Amherst, Mass.) had eight digs.

MIT took a 3-1 lead in the first set, but following two kills by Smith, the score was soon tied at three. From that point, the Engineers began to pull away and, after back-to-back aces, Tech held a 12-7 advantage. Following a Smith timeout, MIT capitalized on several miscues and increased its lead to 15-7. Smith took advantage of a service error and added an ace, courtesy of junior Kristi Hammond (Yona, Gaum), to lessen Tech's lead to 21-11, but MIT responded by scoring the last four points to take the win.

With the score tied at six in the second set, back-to-back kills by Berger along with an ace by Wuthrich and a block by Gagnier and Gargus gave MIT some breathing room. Smith stayed within striking distance after a Hammond kill narrowed to score to five (17-12), but the Engineers ended the set on an 8-3 run.

The third set was the closest and the most aggressive set of the night, which included 11 ties and six lead changes. Smith took a 7-2 lead to start the set, but MIT tied the score at 12-12 after a setting error. The score was tied on seven more occasions and the lead changed hands four times before the end of the set. With the frame knotted at 23, Hao came off the bench and had two aces in a row to clinch the win for the Engineers.