The MIT women’s volleyball team faced off against the Wellesley Blue in a heated contest this Tuesday night but unfortunately endured its first loss (27-25, 18-25, 25-15, 25-20) of the season. Coming hot off an 11-0 record thus far, the Engineers hoped to gain momentum. But this match moved MIT to 2-1 in the NEWMAC conference and Wellesley also to 2-1 in the conference, but to 6-3 overall.
In the first set, Wellesley started the game fiercely with a 7-3 lead, which soon became a 16-11 lead following an MIT service error. However, MIT was quick to react. The Engineers pushed out a 10-3 run and a 24-21 lead after some miscues by the Blue and a block by Kristine A. Bunker ’14, middle hitter. The Blue fought back to tie the game at 24 after another MIT service error. Then, Trinity P. Leonard ’13, outside hitter, brought the team to 25 after a hit that bounced off a Wellesley block and went out of bounds. Following many lead changes, the Blue took the first set at 27-25 after two errors and a strike.
The second set initially mirrored the first set, with fast paced lead changes and multiple ties. Soon after the Blue went up 12-11, the Engineers gained energy. Leonard’s crucial block triggered an exhilarating 7-0 run by MIT. Wellesley attempted to make its come back and got close at 21-17, but MIT persisted and won the set.
To start off the third set, Wellesley put the pressure on with a 12-4 run. MIT persevered and garnered three points out of the next five, but Wellesley’s agility allowed it to push out a 5-2 run to close the set.
MIT then entered the final set with a renewed energy. The Engineers gained a 5-3 lead over Wellesley before the Blue stole back the set at 15-10. MIT quickly initiated a 5-0 run and was on fire until an ace and a kill from Wellesley pushed the Blue further ahead. An intense end of the set attack from MIT put the Engineers close to a win at 21-20. But Wellesley answered MIT with a 4-0 run to win the game.
The Engineers will next play in the MIT invitational on September 23rd and 24th. Nicole C. Gagnier ’15, setter/defensive specialist who had 30 assists and 12 digs, is excited about starting the invitational off stronger and dominating the NEWMAC conference.
“We let our undefeated record slip away, but next match we definitely have to start off strong and not just pick it up at the end. We took charge during the second set, but needed stronger starts during the other sets. We had a few too many errors on our side that came at tough times, and we need to focus on dynamic defense in order to win the invitational. We need lots of energy,” she said.