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Women’s Volleyball Tops Field at MIT Invitational

By Paul Dill
TEAM COACH

The women’s varsity volleyball team won their own invitational tournament this past weekend as part of what has become a 10 match winning streak. Along the way, the Engineers put together wins against some of the most highly ranked teams in the region, which afterwards earned MIT the number one New England regional ranking out of 73 teams.

During the second day of the MIT invitational, in an all-New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship bracket, the MIT women’s volleyball team emerged with the title after defeating Smith College in the semifinals and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the finals. Coast Guard advanced to the championship match after posting a 30-20, 32-30, 30-24 victory over Springfield College.

Arlis A. Reynolds ’06 won Tournament MVP honors while Caroline D. Jordan ’06 was selected to the All-Tournament Team. Reynolds also earned NEWMAC Player of the Week honors for her efforts during the 5-0 week.

The Engineers kicked off the weekend by cruising to a 30-10, 30-21, 30-16 victory over Emmanuel College. Jordan led the way with 13 kills, putting her in the MIT 1000 Kill Club and becoming only the second player at MIT to tally both 1000 kills and digs. She also posted a .667 hitting percentage (18 kills, one error, 18 attempts) as the Engineers hit .406 as a team.

Rose Zhong ’08 and Briana J. Stephenson ’07 each posted nine kills, while Reynolds paced the defense with 13 digs. Carrie C. Buchanan ’08 was Tech’s most prolific scorer, notching four aces on 22 attempts without an error. In two games, Amanda J. Morris ’08 contributed in every category, finishing with 26 assists, four digs, two aces, a kill, and a block.

In the second match, MIT defeated last year’s regional champions, Williams College, 28-30, 30-23, 30-23, 30-21. Austin Zimmerman ’06 led a diverse offensive front, registering 49 assists. Jordan, along with Frances M. Rogoz ’08 and Stephenson, reached double-figures in kills. Jordan had a team-high 17 while Rogoz and Stephenson added 12 and 10, respectively. Alexandra Huston-Carico ’08 and Zhong each contributed nine kills.

Reynolds again led MIT’s defense with a season-high 31 digs, which also set an Institute record for digs in a four-game match. Efforts by the Ephs to funnel their attack at MIT’s right side were countered by Zimmerman’s 18 digs, while defensive specialists Buchanan and Lindsay E. Hunting ’09 each added 11. Stephenson had one of her best blocking performances of the season with two solo and four assisted blocks. As a team, the Engineers continued to be dangerous from the service line, dropping 13 aces with only six errors for the match.

In semifinal action, MIT escaped the opening frame against Smith, 34-32, marred by sloppy play. After settling down and regaining the rhythm that characterized their win over Williams, the Engineers cruised to 30-21 margins in the second and third games to clinch a spot in the final.

Reynolds continued to amass digs at a spectacular pace, finishing with 18. Buchanan also reached double figures with 10, while she along with Reynolds combined for seven aces without a service error. Zimmerman dished out 38 assists, connecting most efficiently with Stephenson, who totaled 10 kills. Rogoz paced Tech’s attack with 12 kills as Jordan recorded 10 of her own.

The Engineers closed their invitational by sweeping Coast Guard, 30-26, 30-22, 30-20. Jordan scored 11 kills to lead MIT while Zhong tallied nine. Rogoz served up six aces and added eight kills. The most commanding performance for MIT came from the backcourt, where Reynolds collected 26 digs, giving her 88 for the tournament in 13 games. She also handled the bulk of the serve receiving duties with 73 receptions and a .945 accuracy percentage.

On Tuesday night, the Engineers continued their winning streak as Stephenson celebrated her 20th birthday by leading MIT to a 30-8, 30-21, 30-14 victory over NEWMAC foe Mount Holyoke College. She paced the Engineers’ attack with 11 kills on just 14 attempts. Morris dished out 33 assists as MIT hit .429 as a team, with Ellen E. Sojka ’08 adding six kills and Lucy L. Wang ’09 and Jordan each chipping in five. The Engineers equaled a season-high 19 aces for the match, as Reynolds, Sojka and Huston-Carico each scored four times from the service line.

With the win, Tech improves to 15-3 overall and 4-0 in conference action. In addition, head coach Paul Dill became the all-time winningest coach in the program’s history, bringing his 10-year career total to 250. The previous mark of 249 wins was established by Karyn Altman, who directed the women’s volleyball squad from 1983–91. MIT next faces undefeated Bridgewater State College and nationally-ranked No. 23 Eastern University on the first night of the Tufts University Invitational, which the Engineers will co-host in Rockwell Cage on Friday night at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.