Balanced Attack Powers MIT Past Wheaton

Junior Jenny Astrachan
Junior Jenny Astrachan

NORTON, Mass. – The MIT women's volleyball team saw four players reach double-digits in kills as it defeated Wheaton College, 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22, in a NEWMAC match on Thursday night. Senior Kristine Bunker (Falmouth, Mass.) led the way for the Engineers (15-7, 5-2 NEWMAC) with 11 kills and a .611 hitting percentage.

Senior Tatiana Berger (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) racked up 10 kills, seven digs, two aces, and two blocks as junior Jenny Astrachan (Austin, Texas) posted 10 kills and four aces. Senior Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) rounded out the front row with 10 kills while classmate Emma Gargus (Columbus, Ohio) totaled five digs, four aces, and two blocks. Junior Nicole Gagnier (Atlanta, Ga.) registered 39 assists and four aces as freshman Tori Wuthrich (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) amassed a match-high 17 digs. Senior Sharon Hao (San Jose, Calif.) and freshman Jennie Glerum (Redmond, Wash.) bolstered the defense with seven and five digs, respectively.

Holding a 9-8 edge in the first set, an Astrachan ace sparked a 9-3 run that was capped by an ace from Berger. Wheaton picked up the next five points, trimming its deficit to two (18-16). An exchange of points ensued, keeping the Lyons within striking distance until kills by Hunt and Gagnier coupled with a hitting error gave the Engineers the 25-20 win.

The second stanza featured seven ties and four lead changes before a quick Wheaton burst put it up 18-15. Following its own timeout, MIT slowly mounted a 9-3 spurt as an attacking error resulted in set point. A kill and ace kept the Lyons alive, but a strike from Hunt ended the late rally.

Wheaton picked up the first three points of the third set but the Engineers recorded the next five and later built a 14-10 advantage. The hosts stayed close, capitalizing on a hitting error which put them in front, 20-19. Bunker registered a kill after an MIT timeout; however, the Lyons recorded five of the next six points to force an extra frame.

In the final set, Wheaton jumped out to a 4-0 lead but the Engineers battled back to even the score at eight as Bunker contributed three kills and collaborated with Gagnier for a block. MIT increased its cushion to 15-12; however, the Lyons recorded the next three points. The Engineers gained some breathing room courtesy of their own three-point spurt and maintained the slight edge down the stretch as Hunt's kill made the score 24-20. A serving error and block cut Wheaton's deficit in half and prompted a timeout by MIT. The comeback attempt was thwarted shortly after the break by Gagnier's quick hit.

MIT returns to action on Friday, Oct. 18 when it hosts Western New England University on the first day of the two-day MIT Quad Tournament. Saturday's lineup will feature matches with Rivier University and UMass Boston.