CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Playing for only the second time in program history and first as NEWMAC rivals, the MIT women's volleyball team defeated Emerson College, 25-16, 25-11, 25-18, on Tuesday night. Senior Kristine Bunker (Falmouth, Mass.) paced the Engineers' (20-10, 6-3 NEWMAC) balanced attack with nine kills and a .643 hitting percentage to go along with two blocks. Junior Kat Rice (Delmar, N.Y.) led the way for the Lions (15-11, 3-6 NEWMAC) with four kills to go along with two digs, an ace, and a block.
MIT jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first set, but Emerson capitalized on a pair of errors, a kill from Rice, and an ace by freshman Jessica Hamilton (Altadena, Calif.) to come within one (6-5). An exchange of points ensued until a strike from freshman Megan Gebhard (Howell, Mich.) followed by an ace courtesy of senior Tatiana Berger (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), and a block by junior Nicole Gagnier (Atlanta, Ga.) and Bunker gave the Engineers a 12-6 advantage. After a timeout by the Lions, both sides traded side-outs, maintaining the six-point margin as late as 18-12. MIT responded by scoring seven of the last 11 points to take the win.
The Engineers registered the first five points of the second stanza; however, a block by Rice and junior Alex Lynn (Willington, Fla.) led to four straight points for Emerson, capped by a Rice ace. The visitors stayed close as a service error narrowed the gap to 8-6. A kill by Bunker on the ensuing rally ignited a 17-5 run that she completed with a strike for set point.
Emerson built a 4-2 edge in the final frame before four ties and a lead change moved the score to 7-7. Kills by Gebhard and Berger gave MIT some breathing room as it eventually went up, 21-12, on a Gagnier ace. The Lions continued to attack as sophomore Giuli Frendak's (Warrington, Pa.) ace along with several miscues by the Engineers trimmed the deficit to 21-18. Junior Jenny Astrachan's (Austin, Texas) kill thwarted the late rally attempt as the match ended with a trio of hitting errors.
Berger finished with 10 digs, nine kills, and four aces as Gebhard registered six kills and four digs. Seniors Emma Gargus (Columbus, Ohio) and Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) rounded out the attack with five and four kills, respectively. Senior Sharon Hao (San Jose, Calif.) collected seven digs as freshman Tori Wuthrich (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) added four of her own. Gagnier racked up 30 assists, six digs, four aces, and two blocks for the Cardinal and Gray.
Frendak totaled 10 assists and three digs for the Lions as senior Jamie Morgan (Maple Glen, Pa.) tallied a match-high 13 digs. Hamilton chipped in five digs while Lynn notched three blocks.
Both squads will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 2. MIT will travel to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy while Emerson will host NEWMAC foe Clark University and Colby-Sawyer College.