The MIT women’s volleyball team emerged with a hard-fought 25-17, 21-25, 25-20, 25-19 victory over Clark University in a NEWMAC battle on Tuesday night. Jennifer L. Astrachan ’15 led all players with a career-high 19 kills to go along with a .375 hitting percentage as the Engineers improved to 15-2 on the year and 4-1 in conference play. For the Cougars (6-9, 1-4 NEWMAC), freshman Marina Ramos led the way with 13 kills, a .312 hitting effort, 17 digs, and two aces.
MIT slowly built a 10-5 lead in the first set before eventually going up 17-9 on a kill by Meryl E. Gibbs ’16. Clark claimed the next two points courtesy of a hitting error and a strike by Ramos; however, an exchange of points ensued until Clare Farley ’18 produced a kill and an ace to give the Cardinal and Gray a 25-17 score at the end of the set.
The second stanza was a back-and-forth affair as it featured 14 ties and five lead changes. Trailing 16-14, a kill by junior Shannon Glass-Smythe sparked a 7-3 run for the Cougars. MIT quickly knotted the set at 21 on blasts from Megan E. Gebhard ’17 and Astrachan, which prompted the visitors to call a timeout. Following the break, Clark capitalized on two miscues by the Engineers and two Ramos kills to clinch the frame.
The tight play continued into the third set as there were 11 ties and five lead changes. A strike by Glass-Smythe resulted in the final deadlock as she evened the score at 19. MIT responded with a block by Nicole C. Gagnier ’15 and Gibbs and then a kill from Astrachan to gain some breathing room and force a timeout by the Cougars. Once action resumed the Engineers claimed four of the final five points, capped by an ace from Farley, for a final score of 25-20.
The action remained close early in the fourth set as a block by Glass-Smythe and sophomore Courtney Pharr provided the sixth tie at 12-all. MIT replied by mounting a 9-3 run to establish its largest margin since the opening frame. Despite the deficit, Clark continued to attack as Pharr collaborated with sophomore Tori Whitney on a block and then added a kill to narrow the gap to 22-19. After a timeout by the Engineers, Astrachan registered three straight kills to close out the match.
Gebhard finished with 17 kills and two blocks while Allison A, Davanzo ’18 tallied 10 kills, a .316 hitting performance, and four blocks. Farley amassed a match-high 18 digs and three aces as sophomore Tori L. Wuthrich ’17 posted 15 digs and three aces. Gagnier totaled 53 assists, six digs, and two blocks while Jennifer A. Glerum ’17 and Lisette G. Tellez ’18 rounded out the defense with 13 and 10 digs, respectively.
Sophomore Savannah Sanford notched 12 digs, six kills, and two aces while Glass-Smythe had 11 digs and five kills. Pharr produced three blocks and two aces as senior Savonnah Rowe rounded out the front row with three blocks. Whitney generated 27 assists, nine digs, and two blocks while sophomore Mia Cattaneo collected seven digs.
Both squads face non-conference opponents in its next outings. MIT will host Simmons College and Tufts University in a tri-match on Saturday, Oct. 4 while Clark will square off with Connecticut College in a home match on Thursday, Oct. 2.