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MIT regains NEW8 volleyball title from Smith

By David Rothstein

MIT recaptured the New England Women's Eight Conference volleyball title from Smith College Saturday with a 15-9, 15-10, 15-1 stomping of the Pioneers at Babson College. It was MIT's second title in the three-year history of the NEW8 playoffs, which MIT hosted and won in its inaugural year. Last year the Engineers lost a tough match to Smith in the NEW8 finals at Wellesley College.

Saturday's match was in many respects a mirror-image to last year's final, which Smith won thanks to the skill of NEW8 1988 Volleyball Athlete of the Year Nancy Satchwell and guidance of Coach of the Year Bonnie May. MIT's Karyn Altman '78 won this year's Coach of the Year honors, while senior Engineer co-captain Cecilia Warpinski was selected as the 1989 Volleyball Athlete of the Year.

The Engineers reached Saturday's final with an easy win over Wheaton College in a quarterfinal game Thursday evening at MIT, and a 15-5, 15-11, 15-11 win over the fourth-seeded Mount Holyoke Rams Saturday morning in the semifinal.

MIT clearly outranked the Rams, and it was the Engineers' sloppy play in great part that kept the scores close. But credit must be given to Mount Holyoke for recovering from a first-game blowout to serve well in the second game, disrupting MIT's offense.

The championship match began on a higher level, with both teams playing well the first few points. MIT ran up an 8-2 lead before Smith called for a timeout. After building its lead to

10-3, MIT got caught on this number, and let Smith fight back to a 10-8 deficit before kills by Warpinski and Debbie Nungester '90 and a Nungester block of a Smith overpass finished the game.

In the second game MIT became fixated early with the number zero, staking Smith a 5-0 lead, and Altman called for a timeout. Their senses restored, the Engineers quickly scored on kills by Tonya Parker '90, a service ace by Nyla Hendrick '92 and a couple of Smith errors to tie the score at five.

Five MIT points in the second game came directly off the serve as Smith could not find the right combination of receivers, and lost, 15-10.

They could have called the match after two games, but did not. Instead, a slow-motion finale ensued, with Smith mired deeper than ever in a defensive daze and MIT's offense coming to a quiet end on a quiet day. Tech led, 8-0, before Smith scored its first point, and finished the match, appropriately, with yet another service winner. Sophomore middle hitter Cindy Parrish floated a serve to the Pioneers' left-back corner, and no Smith player thought that it would, or even seemed to care if it did, land inside the white lines.

Point, game and match to MIT. The title was back.

With its conference title, MIT (28-4) won an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Nationals and will meet Ohio Northern University Thursday in Ada, OH, in the opening round. The Engineers will have to go without Altman, who is expecting her second child any day. Coaching duties will be taken up by assistant coaches Dave Insley and Jean Heiney.

MIT had put in a bid to host the Regional round of the championships, but was turned down because only two teams from New England are in this year's playoffs.

Altman did not expect that MIT would host the Regional round. She said that Ohio was one of the better sites to which MIT could travel, given the short and direct plane ride, rather than a long bus ride to upstate New York, or a long plane trip to California. In last year's regional, MIT traveled to the University of California, San Diego, losing in the first round to Pomona College.

The Engineers have met the Ohio Northern team once before, losing to it in the second round of the 1986 NCAA playoffs.