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Women's volleyball overwhelms Brandeis

By David Rothstein

It was like Steffi Graf vs. Unknown #349.

Or maybe Boris Becker facing a tennis wannabe in the opening round of Wimbledon.

The women's volleyball team dismantled Brandeis University Tuesday evening in DuPont Gymnasium to the tune of 15-7, 15-6, 15-4. The win, which took only 55 minutes, brought MIT's overall record to 12-2. The Engineers are undefeated in New England Women's Eight Conference play, at 3-0, and are ranked second in the New England Division III.

Led by a quartet of seniors, the Engineers were simply too strong for the young Brandeis squad, which was not able to generate any consistency in its play. Perhaps being intimidated by MIT, the Judges were just not able to pass the ball, or to hit it well on the occasional good pass to setter Sheryl Sousa's able hands.

Brandeis held the early lead in the first game, 3-1, taking advantage of a few poor passes on the Engineers' part. But well-placed MIT serves swung the momentum back in the home team's favor, carrying the Engineers to a 10-5 lead before Brandeis coach Mary Sullivan called for a timeout.

MIT finished out the first game on continued strong service, straight-as-an-arrow setting by Jenny Harris '90, and the return of its quick offense, in the hands of middle hitters Debbie Nungester '90 and Cindy Parrish '92.

The second game showcased, on one side of the net, MIT's Cecilia Warpinski '90 in her usual fine form on offense, and on the other side of the net, Brandeis' "I Thought You Were Going to Take It" defense.

Warpinski, who finished the game with 18 kills (hitting at a .529 clip), pounded the ball into the court or off Brandeis' blockers' hands, while junior Debbie Rego came up with several nice defensive efforts to keep the ball alive for the Engineers.

Brandeis' 5'-11" freshman outside hitter Carie Gladstone did only minor damage with more errors than kills.

The Judges' defense was confused and haphazard at times, resulting in a rainfall of free balls to the MIT side of the net. The Engineers should have converted more of these into kills, but did not pass the free balls too aggressively, perhaps out of mercy.

MIT coach Karyn Altman '78 conceded that it was difficult for the Engineers to maintain their concentration against so weak an opponent. "The only time it was close," she said, "was when we matched their mistakes."

Perhaps lulled by the game's slow pace, MIT setter Harris relented a bit on her setting in the second game, but made up for that in the hitting department, with an early cross-court putaway to tie the game at 3-3, and a late-game power-tip -- which brought "oohs" and "aahs" from the faithful few in the stands -- to bring the ball back to MIT with the score in its favor, 14-6.

Sullivan sent her charges out on the court for game three with the battle cry: "Show us what you can do, Brandeis." Came the wry reply from an MIT partial in the crowd: "I think we've seen what they can do." Or cannot.

The Engineers charged through the final game with strong serves, good blocking by Nungester and Harris, and a smooth offense. After losing the first point, MIT ran off seven in a row, then climbed to a 12-2 lead before finishing yet another 15-minute quickie, 15-4.

Tonya Parker '90 played a solid game at the outside hitter position, finishing with eight kills and no errors in 15 attempts (53.3 percent), while Nungester and Parrish added five kills apiece.

The Engineers have a week to rest and prepare for next weekend's Eastern Connecticut Invitational Tournament, which begins Friday evening.