CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Top-seeded MIT survived a first set scare before going on to sweep Wellesley College, 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-20), in the championship match of the 2017 New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Volleyball Championship on Sunday at MIT's Rockwell Cage. The conference title is the second-straight for the Engineers.
MIT, No. 21 in the latest AVCA Division III National Poll, improves to 28-2 overall and earns the NEWMAC's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship. Wellesley is now 22-6 overall and will have to wait until Monday to find out about a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Championship.
NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player Carley Silvernale (Bellevue, Wash.) totaled eight digs in the final to lead the Engineers to victory. MIT's junior libero totaled 36 digs in two tournament matches to win MOP honors. Classmate Abby Bertics (La Jolla, Calif.) finished with 15 digs to lead all players, while first year setter Andie Maloney (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) dished out 25 assists and added nine digs. Senior Clare Farley (La Jolla, Calif.) had nine digs and three aces for MIT.
Junior Yasmine Reece (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and first year Lauren Gedney (Huntersville, N.C.) each totaled 12 kills to lead the Blue offense. First year Nikki Jensen (Castro Valley, Calif.) added seven kills for a Blue attack that hit only .118 in the match. Junior libero Samantha Hoang (Elk Grove, Calif.) collected 10 digs, while sophomore Meghan Shoop (Cypress, Calif.) had seven and junior Michelle Li (Scarsdale, N.Y.) had five. Li added a match-high 32 assists.
The teams battled back and forth through an opening first set that saw nine tie scores and three lead changes. With the score tied 14-14, MIT scored five of the next six points to take a 19-15 lead. The Blue responded in kind, rallying from the four-point deficit to tie the match, 21-21, following back-to-back kills from Reece. Bertics and Jensen exchanged points before back-to-back errors knotted the score at 23-23. The Engineers sealed the win thanks to back-to-back aces from Farley, taking control of the match with a 25-23 opening set win.
MIT never trailed in the second set, opening the set on a 4-0 run and eventually extending their advantage to 18-11 on a Blue miscue. A Wellesley kill from first year Darina Postupaka (Tinley Park, Ill.) made the score 23-15 late in the game, but the Blue would get no closer, as MIT senior Lisette Tellez (Miami, Fla.) added a kill and the Blue made an error to drop the game, 25-15.
The Engineers sealed their second-straight title with a 25-21 win in the third set. The Blue rallied to tie the score midway through the frame, at 14-14, but could never overtake the hosts to extend the match to a fourth set. MIT broke the 14-14 tie with three-straight points and held off a late Wellesley charge, as a kill from junior Samantha Ostenso (Hopkins, Minn.) pulled the Blue within one at 20-19, to earn the win when Bertics put down the final point in the match.
The NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Selection Show will air Monday, November 6th at 12:30 PM ET on NCAA.com.