Engineers Outlast Wellesley, Advance to NCAA Regional Final

Engineers Outlast Wellesley, Advance to NCAA Regional Final

Nov. 9, 2007


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - No. 1 MIT edged out No. 4 Wellesley College, 34-32, 30-25, 25-30, 23-30, 15-13, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball New England Regional on Friday night. The Engineers (36-2) will face No. 3 Amherst College in the regional final at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. The pairing will be a rematch of last year's second round match in which MIT defeated the Lord Jeffs, 30-27, 30-22, 25-30, 30-27.

In the opening game, Wellesley (28-7) established a 12-5 lead. MIT slowly chipped away at the deficit, evening the contest at 16. Seven ties and six lead changes ensued with neither side holding an advantage of more than two points. The Engineers reached game point on a kill by Jenny Li, but Samantha Du's strike extended the frame for the Blue. After exchanging points on the next six serves, strikes by Katie Rowe and Amanda Morris wrapped up the game for MIT.

The second stanza was another back-and-forth affair as it featured 15 ties and seven lead changes. The Engineers established an early 6-4 edge, which was quickly reclaimed by Wellesley. The Blue maintained a slight lead over MIT for most of the frame until Rowe's hit tied the contest at 25. Strong serving by Lindsay Hunting helped close out the game as she picked up two aces while Rowe posted a pair of kills.

The Blue kicked off the third game with five straight points. The Engineers were able to narrow the gap to two (10-8), but they could not overcome the deficit as Wellesley immediately doubled its advantage. MIT mounted a late four-point rally to bring the score to 28-25, but kills by Jessica Duff and Lauren Rasmussen wrapped up the game for the Blue.

With the score tied at five in the fourth game, Wellesley generated a four-point spurt that put it ahead for good. MIT came within two points on four occasions, the last being at 20-18. The Blue responded by scoring 10 of the last 15 points to force the extra session.

In the final frame, the Engineers registered the first four points, marking the first time they opened a game with the lead. Wellesley got on the board following a service error, but MIT extended its margin with back-to-back blocks. Trailing 7-2, the Blue picked up the next three points, however, Rowe's kill resulted in the changeover. MIT sustained its small advantage until a pair of miscues and a kill from the Blue's Tracy Waldman knotted the score at 12. The Engineers recaptured the lead on Barden Cleeland's strike and created some breathing room with a kill by Rose Zhong. Alice Cummings' hit denied MIT match point on its first attempt, but the Cardinal and Gray was successful on its next try as Zhong's kill sealed the win.

MIT saw five of its attackers post double-digits in kills. Cleeland led the way with 15, followed by Katrina Ellison (14), Zhong (12), Rowe (12), and Li (11). Zhong completed the double-double with 22 digs as Carrie Buchanan posted a match-high 36 digs. Amanda Morris finished with 56 assists, four blocks, and three of the Engineers' six aces. Rowe registered a team-high six blocks while Cleeland and Ellison each notched five. Hunting rounded out Tech's defense with 16 digs.

Waldman recorded an efficient hitting performance as she totaled 12 kills and .400 percentage to go along with a match-high seven blocks. Murielle Dawdy recorded 16 kills and 19 digs while Duff chipped in 13 kills. Samantha Du tallied 12 kills and six blocks as Emily Peters collected 28 digs. Cummings tacked on 18 digs while Victoria Peng dished out 24 assists. Billie Briones contributed 33 assists and three aces to Wellesley's cause.