Oct. 16, 2007
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - In a battle of undefeated NEWMAC women's volleyball teams, MIT emerged with a 30-28, 30-25, 30-23 win over Wellesley College on Tuesday night. The victory lifted the Engineers' ledger to 26-1 overall and 7-0 in conference play and also extended their winning streak to 22 consecutive matches. The current stretch ranks second in the program's history as the Cardinal and Gray tallied 41 straight wins during the 1983 season, eventually falling in the title match of the NCAA Championship. Wellesley, previously winners of 14 straight, saw its record drop to 20-4 on the year and 6-1 in the NEWMAC.
MIT opened the match with five unanswered points and later established a 10-4 advantage. The Blue slowly chipped away at the deficit, eventually capturing a 16-14 lead behind strong serving from Lauren Rasmussen. Following three ties and two lead changes, Wellesley went ahead, 21-19, which prompted a timeout by the Engineers. Following the break, MIT rattled off three straight points before a service error evened the game at 22. Another three-point spurt by the Engineers resulted in a timeout by the Blue. Wellesley narrowed the gap to one (25-24), but MIT countered with a trio of points. The Blue scored four of the next five points to once again narrow its margin to one (29-28). A timeout by the Engineers ended the momentum as a strike by Jenny Li clinched the game.
MIT maintained a narrow lead for a majority of the second stanza until Wellesley evened the score at 14. A kill by Katie Rowe put the Engineers ahead for good; however the Blue remained within striking distance. Tech extended its lead to four (22-18) following a hit by Lindsay Hunting that just made its way over the net. Wellesley captured the ensuing point after its timeout, but MIT quickly doubled its advantage to six (25-19). With the score at 28-23 after a block by Katrina Ellison, the Blue used its final timeout of the game. Wellesley picked up back-to-back points, but it could not generate a late rally as MIT capitalized on a kill from Barden Cleeland and a hitting miscue by the Blue to close out the frame.
The early stages of the third game were a back-and-forth affair, which eventually resulted in a 12-9 advantage for Wellesley. The Engineers picked up five of the next six points to regain the lead at 14-13. The Blue immediately evened the contest, but MIT maintained a three-point cushion which last occurred at 20-17. Wellesley posted the next three points to establish the third tie of the frame. The Engineers answered with a hit by Rose Zhong and converted a defensive miscue by the Blue to push their lead to two (22-20). A strike by Jessica Duff down the near sideline cut Wellesley's deficit in half. MIT mounted an 8-3 run to close the match, with three key hits from Li and a pair of aces by Carrie Buchanan powering the late surge.
Li led the way with a season-high 14 kills while Amanda Morris dished out 41 assists. Zhong finished with 15 digs and eight kills as Rowe notched eight kills and four blocks. Ellison paced the blocking corps with five stops to go along with seven kills while Cleeland contributed six kills and four blocks. Buchanan collected 15 digs and three aces as Cathy Melnikow picked up nine digs.
Murielle Dawdy and Tracy Waldman each posted 12 kills as Emily Peters registered a match-high 23 digs. Victoria Peng distributed 26 assists for Wellesley.
Both teams will compete in the Hall of Fame Tournament this weekend. On Friday, MIT's matches will be held at Mount Holyoke College while Wellesley will travel to Smith College. Mount Holyoke and Smith will host Saturday's brackets.