WORCESTER -- In a match that definitely had a playoff feel, Clark rallied for a thrilling 3-2 win over crosstown rival WPI in NEWMAC volleyball action on Tuesday evening at the Kneller Athletic Center. Game scores were 22-25, 27-25, 23-25, 25-16, 15-11.
With the win, the Scarlet and White improves to 19-7 overall but more importantly moves to 7-2 in conference contests, and have secured the No. 3 seed in next week's conference tournament.
For the Engineers, meanwhile, their record also stands at 19-7 and despite the loss, they have clinched the program's first playoff berth since 2012.
WPI looked as if they would collect the second set as well when they went ahead 16-12 on an Anna Kaczowka (Seekonk, MA) service ace.
Back-to-back kills by Marina Ramos (Guaynabo, PR) got the Cougars closer but once again Hunt gave the Engineers some breathing room with a kill to make the score 22-19. Clark then ran off four straight points to even the score capped by a thunderous kills from Ana Mercado (Guaynabo, PR).
Points went back-and-forth and with the score knotted at 25-25, the Scarlet and White took advantage of a WPI hitting error and then got the set-sealing point on a block from Courtney Pharr (Seattle, WA) and Tori Whitney (Sunderland, MA).
Clark raced ahead in the third set, leading 9-4 after a Mercado kill, but the Crimson and Gray recorded seven of the next eight points to take an 11-10 lead. That lead ballooned to 16-13 after consecutive Daigle kills and was 20-15 after a ball handling error from the Cougars' Whitney.
The Scarlet and White made a run of their own in the set and tied the score at 23-23 as Pharr got the momentum going with two kills in a row and then later, a Shannon Glass-Smythe (Albuquerque, NM) service and a WPI miscue had the score all square. Kills from Bircsak and Hunt, however, gave the Engineers the set at 25-23 and the 2-1 lead in the match.
Clark jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth set and never trailed as they led by as many as nine points on a couple of occasions and eventually took the 25-16 win to force the fifth and deciding set.
The final set was similar to the others in that it was a back and forth affair that saw seven ties – the last one coming at 10-10. Ramos put the Scarlet and White ahead 12-10 with back-to-back kills but Hunt kept the Engineers in striking distance with one of her own. That would be WPI's final point, though as two kills from Mercado were sandwiched around a Ramos service ace as the Cougars picked up the 15-11 win.
For WPI, Hunt finished with a career-high 19 kills to go along with 17 digs, while Cassandra Tomerlin (La Quinta, CA) posted a season-high 29 digs of her own.
The two headed setting tandem of Shay Feeley (Franklin, MA) and Azita Bakhtyari (Andover, MA) combined for 46 assists – with a season-best 26 coming from Feeley. Daigle, meanwhile, totaled 17 kills and seven digs.
For the Cougars, Ramos racked up 19 kills and 26 digs – her 16th double-double this season. In addition to Ramos' big night, Mercado contributed 13 kills and Glass-Smythe - the Cougars' lone senior – ended with a double-double of her own – 11 kills and 14 digs.
Whitney, meanwhile, handed out a career-best 53 assists and Mia Cattaneo (Santa Barbara, CA) anchored an excellent back row, totaling 29 digs – her seventh match this season of 20 or more.
Both teams wrap up the regular season with conference contests. WPI plays host to Mount Holyoke at 1:00 p.m. while Clark visits Emerson at 2:30 p.m.
Release Courtesy Clark Sports Information