Women's Volleyball Makes Final But Loses to NYU
MIT soundly defeated the first three teams it met to enter the final round of the MIT Invitational Tournament for the first time in ten years, but only to be swept in three games by the number one nationally ranked New York University Violets.
MIT started the invitational with a sweep of Johnson & Wales University. MIT came up with the first point on a kill by Joy N. Hart ’06 on the first of many perfect sets by Austin Zimmerman ’06. The Engineers controlled the game from the start, kept the volleys short and the kills precise. The Wildcats tried to rally and scored well during the second half, but the Engineers kept their cool and on another pretty set by Zimmerman, outside hitter Frances M. Rogoz ’07 made a kill that ended the first game of the match, 30-25.
JWU loses composure
The second game started much as the first one had, but JWU quickly took their first lead of the tournament, 7-6 over the Engineers on a perfect ace by JWU hitter Stephanie Cropper. They held on to the lead, despite three consecutive service errors into the net. The Engineers played a sloppy game, repeatedly hitting the ball into the net and missing blocks. Finally, after MIT regained possession, backup setter Caitlin A. Murphy ’07, served to JWU and Amanda J. Morris ’08 had a perfect block, winning a point for MIT and setting them up to come back from a 6 point deficit.
They ran the table from that point on, with kills by Ellen E. Sojka ’08, Alex N. Huston-Carico ’08, Morris, and Caroline D. Jordan ’06. Finally, at 29-25, Hart came in with a game winning kill on a set by Murphy.
Back into the match for game three, Zimmerman controlled the play, setting up kill after kill for Hart, Jordan, Rose Zhong ’08, Briana J. Stephenson ’07, who had five kills. Hart, in addition to her kills, drove in two consecutive aces. Zimmerman had a couple of powerful spikes herself.
Throughout the final game, the Engineers were laughing and smiling, in stark contrast to the JWU Wildcats, who fought each other more effectively than their opponents. At one point, as a Wildcat was preparing to take a set, one of her team members, Audra Vaccari, body checked her out of the way, taking the set herself. Game three ended with an ace serve by MIT, the score 30-15.
MIT’s next match, against the Skidmore Thoroughbreds, went in much the same manner, with MIT sweeping Skidmore in three games. Zimmerman, playing all three games, was typically strong, with 47 assists. Reynolds and Rogoz had 12 and 14 kills, respectively, and Hart totaled up 18 kills. Reynolds and Jordan had 13 digs apiece.
Williams fights hard but still falls
The next day, MIT moved on to the semifinals and took on the Williams College Ephs, winners of the NCAA Division III New England Regional Finals. The first two games, both closely fought and very competitive, ended just as the previous six had, with MIT beating the Ephs 31-29 and 30-27.
But in the third game of the match, a few well-placed blocks and last second digs by the Ephs helped Williams serve the Engineers their first loss of the tournament. But it didn’t matter to the Engineers, who came back with a vengeance. Zimmerman was fantastic yet again, and Arlis A. Reynolds ’06 and Hart had 19 and 17 kills respectively. Together, they won the Engineers another win, 30-22.
After the match, the Engineers moved on to the finals against the NYU Violets, who ranked number one nationally in the most recent CSTV/AVCA Top-25 poll, took second in the NCAA Championships, and are 19-0 for the season.
The game started off positively, as Jordan served and then came in to grab a kill into the opposite corner. MIT got a two point lead on Jordan’s serves, but that was the last time they would lead by two points for the rest of the match. The Violets took control and kept it for the remainder of the game.
The Engineers managed to keep up pace with them for most of the first game, however, tying the score repeatedly. On the most bizarre play of the match, Zhong served to NYU, only to have the ball fall lightly into the center of the court for an ace when not a single player for the other team made a move to get the ball.
Stephenson was at her best in this match, repeatedly gaining possession for the Engineers, only to have them lose it again on the next serve. The Engineers tied it up 29-29 on an impressive block by Hart, but lost possession on the next serve, and after a long volley, lost the game, 31-29.
The second game was less of a challenge for the Violets, as MIT was weak from the start. Sojka had some fantastic kills, but it wasn’t nearly enough; MIT fell 30-19 to NYU.
The third game followed the same pattern as the second. MIT allowed NYU to score on MIT’s first serve of the game, but they kept up the pace for much of the first half. MIT tied it 7-7, but at that point the Violets took over until the score was 25-14. The Engineers barely managed to stay in the game, and it would have been over quickly but for the three beautiful diving digs by Maria E. Rossi ’07 and a fantastic block by Jordan. But eventually NYU nailed them down, winning the match and the tournament, as MIT took second.
Zimmerman and Reynolds were named to the All-Tournament Team. The Engineers are now looking forward to meeting these teams again at the Tufts Invitational this weekend.
Team Bests Holyoke
By Paul Dill
The women’s varsity volleyball team followed up their strong showing last weekend with their 4th straight conference win, beating Mount Holyoke College on Tuesday night 3-0 (30-11, 30-18, 30-25).
Murphy lead the way dishing out 22 assists, while outside hitters Rogoz and Zhong put down 13 and 7 kills respectively. This put their overall record at 12-4 and their conference record at 4-0.
The Engineers are currently ranked number two in the New England Region and their next home match is Wednesday, Oct. 6, against Clark University at 7 p.m. in Rockwell Cage.