MIT and Wellesley Advance to NEWMAC Women’s Volleyball Championship Match

Andie Maloney and Alli Davanzo
Courtesy of DSPics.com

THE BASICS:

- Scores:

No. 1 MIT 3, No. 4 Wheaton College 2 (10-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10)

No. 3 Wellesley College 3, No. 2 Babson College 2 (23-25, 25-18, 29-27, 18-25, 15-12)

- Records: MIT (27-2); Wheaton (24-9); Wellesley (22-5); Babson (20-9)

- Location: Cambridge, Mass. (Rockwell Cage)

- The Lead: Top-seeded MIT and No. 3 Wellesley College will meet in the NEWMAC Women's Volleyball Championship for the sixth time and first since 2012 following its semifinal victories on Saturday. The Engineers defeated No. 4 seed Wheaton College (10-25, 25-15, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10) while the Blue outlasted No. 2 Babson College in a five-set thriller (23-25, 25-18, 29-27, 18-25, 15-12) to set up Sunday's title match. 

HOW IT HAPPENED – No. 4 Wheaton vs. No. 1 MIT:

- Wheaton controlled the pace and rhythm of the its efficient first set 25-10 win. The Lyons hit .448 while Nikita Selivan, Cathryn MacGregor and Claire Cansler were all over .500.

- The Engineers took the court with increased intensity for the second set and earned the first three points on senior Alli Davanzo's (Saint Johns, Fla.) serve. MIT's defense stepped up and allowed the team to capitalize on miscommunication by Wheaton to extend its lead to 10-6. The turning point of the set was when freshman Francesca Macchiavello (Lexington, Ky.) entered the game as the Engineers were up 11-9. She led the team to an eight-point rally which featured a pair of kills by senior Lisette Tellez (Miami, Fla.) and four aces by Macchiavello. The teams traded points for the remainder of the set before sophomore Shea Landeene (Phoenix, Ariz.) threw down a kill from the right side.

- With the match even at a set apiece, the competition heightened and the third set saw eight lead changes. Wheaton setter Becca Houghton got the Lyons going with a pair of assists to take an early 3-0 lead. Junior libero Carly Silvernale (Bellevue, Wash.) was peppered by the Lyons' attacks and totaled 11 digs in the set. Offensively, the setters faced off in the front row midway through the set for a high-paced affair. On MacGregor's serve late in the set, the Lyons rallied for four consecutive points, taking the lead for the final time at 19-18. A ball handling error stifled MIT's late rally to give Wheaton its second set in the match.

- Wheaton's Casey Dinga recorded two big blocks early in the fourth set to give the Lyons the 7-6 lead. A kill by junior Carly Staub (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) sparked a 13-5 run which put the Engineers ahead for good. Wheaton chipped away at the deficit as a kill by Julia Palomba narrowed the gap to 20-17. Following its own timeout, MIT picked up five of the next eight points as a kill by freshman Andie Maloney (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) sent the match into the fifth set.

- The momentum swung back to the Lyons to begin the final stanza as they earned the first three points. A kill by Davanzo ignited a 14-4 run that gave the Engineers a 14-7 advantage. A serving error, a block by Cansler and MacGregor, and a hitting error extended the frame but a kill by Staub clinched the victory for the MIT.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

- Three MIT hitters slammed down double-digit kills: Davanzo (11), Staub (11), and Bertics (10). Silvernale recorded 28 digs while senior Clare Farley (La Jolla, Calif.) and Tellez collected 14 and 12 digs, respectively. Maloney tallied 37 assists, 19 digs, and three aces as Macchiavello ended the day with five aces. Bertics and Davanzo bolstered the defense with three blocks apiece.

- Cansler powered Wheaton with 10 kills and four blocks as Selivan notched nine kills and eight digs. Houghton racked up 33 assists, 14 digs, and three blocks while Stephanie Martin amassed 26 digs. Palomba and MacGregor both registered 11 digs as Palomba added three aces. 

HOW IT HAPPENED – No. 3 Wellesley vs. No. 2 Babson

- The second semifinal match saw a closely contested first set. Neither team was able to hold onto more than a two-point lead throughout the game. After a marathon rally, Babson earned the narrow advantage at 13-12 with a kill by Kristin Carosotto. Wellesley gained an edge from Yasmine Reece's kill for the lead at 22-21 but then the Beavers responded with a big block by Allie Puccio and Sabrina Lechner to initiate a two-point swing and take the first set.

- Wellesley inched out to a 10-6 lead after a kill by Samantha Ostenso but Babson battled back, eventually tying the score at 16 on a kill by Shannon Roseen. The Blue responded with a kill from Darina Postupaka which kicked off a 9-2 set-ending run.

- The third set was a back-and-forth affair as there were 11 ties and four lead changes. Wellesley held a four-point edge multiple times throughout the frame, the last at 24-20 following a block by Michelle Li and Reece. A kill from Carosotto set off a four-point burst as kills by Allie Puccio tied the score and then put the Beavers in front, 25-24. After an exchange of points a hitting error along with a block by Li and Ostenso gave the Blue a 27-26 edge. Sabrina Lechner tied the set with a kill of her own, however, a kill by Lauren Gedney coupled with a hitting error gave Wellesley a 29-27 victory.

- Babson raced out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth set and maintained a comfortable cushion throughout as it captured a 25-18 win to force a fifth set.

- The final frame was tightly contested as there were seven ties and three lead changes. Wellesley entered the changeover with an 8-7 lead courtesy of a block by Ostenso and Postupaka. A serving error knotted the frame but a block by Postupaka sparked a 5-1 spurt which created a 13-9 advantage. Miscues along with a kill by Gaby Miller brought the Beavers within one (13-12), however, the Blue capitalized on a Reece kill and a Nikki Jensen ace to clinch the match.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

- Reece powered Wellesley with 19 kills, 11 digs, and eight blocks while Gedney recorded 18 kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Postupaka notched 10 kills and six blocks as Samantha Hoang collected 18 digs and two aces. Meghan Shoop contributed 17 digs while Li produced 50 assists, 11 digs, and three blocks.

- Puccio led all players with 22 kills to go along with 16 digs and three blocks. Miller had 13 kills as Abby Beecher collected 22 digs. Cassidy Witten tacked on 18 digs while Carosotto totaled seven blocks. Elizabeth Cameron rounded out Babson with 50 assists, 11 digs, and three blocks.

UP NEXT:

- MIT will be making the program's 15th appearance in the NEWMAC Championship and third in four years while Wellesley will be playing in the title match for the first time since 2013. Both teams last met in the championship match in 2012 which saw the Engineers defeat the Blue in three sets at Wellesley. First serve is slated for 1:00 p.m. in Rockwell Cage. 

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