GAME OF THE WEEK Women’s Volleyball Beats Coast Guard In Exciting Five Set NEWMAC Match

The MIT women’s volleyball team recorded a thrilling 25-15, 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 15-11 victory over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) match on Tuesday night. With the win, the Engineers improved to 11-8 on the year and 3-1 in conference play while the Bears dropped to 5-8 overall and 2-2 in NEWMAC.

MIT jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the opening game and then extended its advantage to 20-9. Coast Guard trimmed its deficit to eight (23-15), but kills by Barden E. Cleeland ’10 and Cecily L. Joujon-Roche ’12 closed out the set for the Engineers.

In the second stanza, the Bears established a 7-3 edge before MIT tied the contest at eight. Coast Guard capitalized on several miscues by the Engineers to increase its margin to three (12-9). MIT countered with a 10-0 run keyed by strong serving from Jennifer Li ’11. The Bears narrowed the gap to four (20-16) but that was as close as it would get as each side traded points and Katrina M. Ellison ’10 registered the set-winning kill.

The Engineers recorded a quick 8-3 lead but Coast Guard responded with seven straight points powered by tough serving from Nicole Johnson. MIT evened the score at 10 before the Bears inched out to an 18-13 advantage. Following their own timeout, the Engineers tallied four straight points including back-to-back strikes from Cleeland. The spurt prompted a timeout by Coast Guard, which picked up the next two points (20-17) to gain some breathing room. MIT battled back and tied the set at 21, but a pair of miscues allowed the Bears to take the set.

The early stages of the fourth set were closely played as a kill by Ellison tied the score at nine. Sparked by Nicole Gurr’s serving, Coast Guard mounted an 11-2 run that resulted in a 20-11 advantage. Key blocks by Cleeland and timely hits from Li helped bring MIT within one (23-22). After a timeout by the Bears, a hitting error ended the Engineers’ late rally as Coast Guard held on to force the decisive fifth set.

Strong blocking helped propel MIT to a 6-1 lead in the final frame but the Bears responded with five consecutive points. The Engineers went on to record eight of the next 10 points, setting up match point at 14-8. Coast Guard extended the contest with three straight points and forced a timeout by MIT. Following the break, Joujon-Roche’s kill grazed the Bears’ blocking attempt and sealed the win for the Engineers.

Ellison posted a team-high 17 digs to go along with four blocks while Li totaled seven kills, three blocks, and three aces. Cleeland racked up 16 kills and seven blocks as Alexandra T. May ’10 tallied 19 kills and 13 digs. Lindsay E. Hunting ’09 collected 15 digs and two aces while Catherine Melnikow ’10 notched 39 assists and three blocks. Evelyn C. Cordner ’12 contributed six assists to MIT’s effort.

Gurr compiled 17 digs, 11 kills, four aces, and two blocks for Coast Guard. Johnson chipped in 10 kills and two aces as Mary Bitzer bolstered the Bears’ attack with eight kills. Jessica Anderson registered 30 digs and an ace while Heather Watka and Ashley Bullard shared setting duties, distributing 15 and 14 assists, respectively.

Both teams will return to non-conference play this weekend. MIT will participate in the Tufts University Invitational, hosting Polytechnic University and Colby-Sawyer College on Friday, Oct. 3 before making the trip to Tufts University the next day. Coast Guard will host Salve Regina University and Mitchell College in a tri-match on Saturday, Oct. 4.