Women's Volleyball Falls to Wellesley in Five-Set Thriller

Freshman Lindsey Wang
Freshman Lindsey Wang

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's volleyball match, Wellesley College emerged with a hard-fought 25-20, 25-13, 22-25, 21-25, 15-5 victory over MIT on Tuesday night. The loss lowered the Engineers ledger to 26-5 on the year and 6-2 in conference play while the Blue improved to 26-4 overall and 8-0 in the NEWMAC.

Wellesley built a 12-8 lead in the first set which caused MIT to call a timeout. Following the break, the Engineers mounted a 9-1 run to go in front, 17-13. The Blue responded with a 10-2 run of its own to close out the set. Senior Isabel Custodio (Powell, Ohio) recorded a kill and then collaborated with sophomore Caitlin Laughlin (St. Louis Park, Minn.) on a block for set point. Laughlin then followed with a kill of her own to give the visitors the win.

The Blue established a 6-1 advantage which then grew to 19-10 in the second stanza. MIT capitalized on a pair of errors and an ace from senior Trinity Leonard (Mill Valley, Calif.) to narrow the gap, however, Wellesley rattled off six unanswered points after its own timeout to finish off the frame. Junior Kira Jordan (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) posted a pair of kills in the spurt while classmate Hilary Ayers (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) earned back-to-back aces.

In the third set, the Engineers quickly generated a 15-5 advantage. Despite the deficit, Wellesley continued to attack and came within three points on five occasions, the last at 23-20. A strike by junior Tatiana Berger (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) resulted in set point for MIT but a miscue coupled with a kill from sophomore Sydney Carfagno (Los Angeles, Calif.) kept the Blue alive. The Cardinal and Gray replied with a blast from freshman Ada Taylor (Durham, N.C.) to extend the match.

With the fourth set knotted at eight, MIT used a 7-2 run to create a small cushion. The Blue responded by recording eight of the next nine points to go in front, 18-16. The Engineers converted a kill and ace from junior Kristine Bunker (Falmouth, Mass.) along with two Wellesley miscues to reclaim the lead for good. A serving error cut the Blue's deficit in half, but MIT picked up five of the next seven points to force the decisive fifth set. Taylor tallied three kills and a block with senior Alyssa Rothman (Plainview, N.Y.) in the late rally.

After exchanging points to start the final frame, Wellesley generated nine straight points which resulted in a 10-2 advantage. Following the Engineers' last timeout of the night, they capitalized on a serving error and a Leonard kill, but they would get no closer as the Blue finished out the match with a 5-1 spurt.

Taylor paced MIT with 13 kills and two blocks while Leonard posted 11 kills and three aces. Berger and freshman Meryl Gibbs (Bellaire, Texas) rounded out the attack with nine and eight kills, respectively. Senior Katie Spielbauer (Lakeview, Mich.) amassed a match-high 28 digs as freshman Lindsey Wang (Cupertino, Calif.) totaled 13 digs and two aces. Rothman compiled 41 assists and two blocks while junior Sharon Hao (San Jose, Calif.) contributed nine digs to the Engineers' cause.

For the Blue, Custodio racked up 23 assists, 15 digs, and 12 kills resulting in the 15th triple-double of her career. Carfagno led the way with 13 kills to go along with three aces while senior Jessica Mullen (Wilmington, Del.) tacked on eight kills. Ayers earned 19 assists and three aces as senior Vivian Hu (Bellaire, Texas) collected 17 digs. Laughlin rounded out the defense with a match-high five blocks.

Both squads travel to western Massachusetts to conclude NEWMAC play on Saturday, Oct. 27. MIT will visit Mount Holyoke College while Wellesley heads out to Smith College.