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Spikers Clinch Spot In NCAA Tournament

Ajai Bharadwaj -- The Tech
Lijin Aryananda '98 gets ready to spike the set in the last home game of her MIT career. MIT beat Mt. Holyoke 3-0.

By Paul Dill
Team Coach

After finishing second in the New England Women's 8 Conference Tournament this past weekend, the women's varsity volleyball team clinched a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament.

MIT became one of 48 teams across the country selected by the NCAA to compete in this post-season tournament.

In the quarterfinals of the NEW8 tournament last Thursday, second-seeded MIT hosted seventh-seeded Mount Holyoke College. The Engineers jumped out to a quick lead and made it look easy as they cruised to a 151 win in the first game.

The next two games turned out to be more of the same as MIT won 152, 159 to close out the match 30. The entire team contributed to the victory with Lijin Aryananda '98 leading the way with several kills and blocks throughout the match. Setter Jenn Svednson '01 came into the third game with 15 assists.

Next up in the semi-finals was Smith College, recently placed above MIT in the New England rankings. The Engineers disputed the rankings as they ripped through Smith 30 (155, 1510, 1513) to advance to the championship match. Jill Eich '99 led the Engineers with 19 kills, 2 service aces and 11 digs. Setter Ali Huang '00 also had a great match with 35 assists and 5 digs.

The finals pitted MIT against nemesis Wellesley College, the only team the Engineers lost to over the last month. Despite strong play from Betsy Sailhamer '99 with 9 kills, Mayleen Ting '99 with 7 kills, Jill Eich '99 with 13 digs, and strong blocking from Katy Conley '01, Wellesley proved to be too strong and took the match and the NEW8 championship 30 (159, 151, 1511). However, by beating Smith College in the semi-finals, MIT eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament and took their spot.

The first rounds of the NCAA Tournament will be hosted by Wellesley. MIT plays tonight at 7:30 p.m. vs. Wheaton College. If the Engineers win, they will then face Springfield College tomorrow at 5 p.m. The regional championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m.