Women’s Volleyball Defeats Middlebury in Five-Set Thriller in New England Challenge Opener

A photo of Alexis Groark (on the left, facing right) and Madison Lee (on the right, facing left), high-fiving
Photo by Olivia Lucchese '22

THE BASICS:

- Score: MIT 3, Middlebury College 2 (25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10)

- Records: MIT (19-4); Middlebury (10-6)

- Location: Cambridge, Mass. (Rockwell Cage)

- The Lead: The MIT women's volleyball team opened the first day of the New England Challenge by defeating Middlebury College, 25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10, on Friday. Senior Alexis Groark (Elwood, N.Y.) powered the Engineers with a career-high 24 kills while hitting .308 on the night.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

- Set 1: Trailing 5-4, a kill by junior Emily Condon (Orange, Calif.) sparked a 9-1 run which put MIT ahead for good. Middlebury chipped away at the deficit, as a setting error brought it within 19-16. Another Condon kill kicked off a 6-2 spurt as an ace from sophomore Julia Caravias (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) ended the set.

- Set 2: The Engineers built a small cushion but the Panthers stayed within striking distance, coming within one point on four occasions, the last at 14-13 courtesy of a Maggie Wise kill. However, a serving error sparked a 7-2 run which helped MIT capture a 25-19 win.

- Set 3: Middlebury gradually established a 15-9 lead after a block by Lucy Ambach and Wise. The Engineers battled back, tying the score at 19 on a kill by junior Andie Maloney (Manhattan Beach, Calif.). An exchange of points ensued until the Panthers capitalized on a serving error, an Ambach ace, and a block by Jane Nelson and Corley Doyle to secure a 25-22 victory.

- Set 4: After a back-and-forth start, MIT created a 17-12 advantage following a kill from Groark. After its own timeout, Middlebury responded with a 13-5 set-ending run.

- Set 5: The Engineers took an 8-5 lead at the changeover, which grew to 11-6 courtesy of a kill by senior Shea Landeene (Phoenix, Ariz.). The Panthers narrowed the gap to three on two occasions, the last at 12-9 after Nelson's kill. MIT went on to register three of the final four points to clinch the win.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

- Condon produced 13 kills and six blocks while first-year Alyssa Unell (Scottsdale, Ariz.) totaled 11 kills and five blocks.

- Sophomore Hannah Collins (Sunnyvale, Calif.) bolstered the Engineers' attack with 10 kills as Maloney tallied 54 assists, 12 digs, four blocks, and two aces.

- Senior Madison Lee (Hillsborough, Calif.) paced MIT with 16 digs, followed by 15 from first-year Sofie Kupiec (Manhattan Beach, Calif.).

- Wise and Nelson both registered 10 kills as Wise added 10 digs.

- Emma Walsh and Chellsa Ferdinand dished out 20 and 17 assists, respectively.

- Gigi Alper collected 17 digs, followed by 14 from Kelly Ferrero.

- Doyle ended the night with 10 blocks.

UP NEXT:

- MIT and Middlebury return to action on Saturday, Oct. 19 with two more matches to close out the New England Challenge. The Engineers will face Williams College at 11:00 a.m. followed by No. 13 Tufts University at 3:30 p.m. The Panthers, meanwhile, will take on Springfield College and Babson College, also at 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

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