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Women's Volleyball Beats Babson, Bows to Smith

By Daniel Wang
Sports Editor

The women's volleyball team concluded its first of two post-season tournaments Saturday at the New England Women's Eight Conference Tournament. The Engineers, as the top seed, had home court advantage for the first round, then advanced to play the latter rounds at Mount Holyoke College.

MIT defeated Babson College in the first round, 30, but then suffered an upset in the semifinals to Smith College. The results gave the team an overall record of 307. Despite the loss, the women have still qualified for further post-season play.

First round against Babson

The action commenced Thursday night at the home court of the higher seeded team, the Engineers. MIT faced Babson, a team it defeated 31 in the regular season, at DuPont Gymnasium in front of a small but supportive crowd. The Engineers clearly proved to be a stronger team, winning once again, in three straight games.

In each of the three games, the Engineers took the early lead and never looked back. MIT scored the first five points, and ran up a 132 score largely due to good serving and many unreturnable kills by the entire lineup.

Control of the ball then went back and forth for a while, as neither team could win points while serving. After conceding a few points to Babson, MIT closed out the first game, 156, when Kamilah Alexander '96 sent an unreturnable spike down the middle of the Babson half of the court.

Alexander was a large contributor to the early points in the second game, delivering two kills and then serving what the announcer called an "ace-o-rama" before Babson called time-out. Once again, the Engineers built a big lead, as they led 72 when time-out was called, and then proceeded to increase it.

Babson closed the gap slightly to make the score 84 before MIT won the seven points in a row, sparked by a successful block by Dione Sturd '96, followed by two consecutive service winners by Stacey Dozono '97.

The pressure by the MIT defense showed in the end of the game. After a block by Alexander brought the score to 144, a Babson player netted a kill attempt to end the second game, 154 to MIT.

In the third game, the Engineers built up a 100 lead, with the help of some offensive errors by Babson. With a comfortable lead, head coach Cindy Gregory called a number of substitutions to have bench players involved in the match.

The new combinations of players affected the team and its ability to work together, as it struggled a little to win the following points. As a result, Babson cut the deficit to come as close as 139.

Just as Babson threatened to catch up quickly, MIT regained control after a play where Dozono jumped up seeming ready to attempt a spike, but then pushed the ball barely out of reach of the defenders. MIT received a sideout, and took advantage of it to win two straight points, the game, and the match, 156, 154, 159.

Alexander led the offensive statistics with nine kills out of 21 attempts. The next best effort came from Pareen Dhalla '95, who recorded five kills out of 28 attempts, followed by Whitney Pine '98 and Colleen Johnson G, who both had three. Dozono, the setter, provided 22 assists.

On the defensive side, Johnson led in digs with eight, followed by Dhalla, with seven, Chrissy Jones '95, with six. Alexander led the team in blocks, with five.

The team's serving and offense were the crucial factors behind the victory, said Robin Smith '95.

Upset in semifinals

Unfortunately, the title hopes for the Engineers were quickly derailed two days later, in the next round, when they fell to fifth-seeded Smith College, 32. Smith was a team the Engineers had beaten twice during the regular season, but this day, it captured the win, 1115, 156, 1715, 715, 155.

In this game, Dhalla led the offense, with 19 kills, followed by Alexander, who had 11. Dozono assisted in 37 of the team's 44 kills.

MIT was busier on defense than in the first round. Johnson once again led in digs, with 21, ahead of Dhalla, who had 16. Alexander led the team in blocks, with two solo blocks and three assists, followed by Pine, Sturd, Arlene Chang '96, who all had one of each.

In the finals, Wheaton College defeated Smith for its third consecutive NEW-8 championship, 159, 1511, 159. Wheaton has been a perennial rival of the Engineers. Last year, Wheaton defeated MIT in the finals of the NEW-8 Tournament, but MIT later avenged the loss in the title match of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Division III Championships.

The Engineers are ranked number one in both New England and in the National Collegiate Athletic Div. III Northeast Regional Poll.

Despite the loss in the NEW-8 Tournament, the team's consistently high performance throughout the season has given it an almost certain invitation to the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, which it will compete in this weekend.

The first round match will take place Friday evening at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, against Eastern Connecticut State University. The eight regional champions will compete for the national title.

"Our goal is to be top eight in the country," which will be very likely if the Engineers capture the regional title, Gregory said.