Visiting Smith Tops Volleyball Despite 24 Kills from Wetmore and 10 from Hess

Natalia Wierzbicki - 2021 WPI Women's Volleyball

WORCESTER -- Visiting Smith grabbed a tight 3-1 victory over the WPI volleyball team in Tuesday night NEWMAC action at Harrington Auditorium. Smith improves to 13-5 overall, 3-3 in NEWMAC play, while the Engineers fall to 10-5, 2-5 NEWMAC. 

WPI and Smith split the first two sets, both going extra points to start the match at 1-1. The third set was again decided by the slimmest of margins (25-23) before Smith won the third frame convincingly, 25-15, to wrap up the victory. 

WPI's Amanda Wetmore (Hudson, NH) struck for a career-best 24 kills, adding seven digs in the loss. Kaleigh Hess (Berea, NY) finished her night with 10 kills, hitting .500, while Natalia Wierzbicki (Wareham, MA) had nine kills on a .533 attack. Catherine Reynolds (Concord, NH) tallied a double-double of 43 assists and 18 digs, with Jia Yazon (South Windsor, CT) rounding out the boxscore with a 14-dig night. 

The Pioneers were paced by a 10-kill, 13-dig performance from Olivia Smith (Mill Valley, CA), while Abby Sweeney (Spring, TX) also tallied 10 kills on the night. Ava Zollinger (Orlando, FL) added eight kills and Sarah Dankovich (El Paso, TX) picked up seven kills with 12 digs. Nathalie Pak (Lexington, MA) tallied 23 assists with nine digs, while Lilly Mearsheimer (Portland, OR) had 15 assists. 

Smith grabbed the first frame, hitting .259, inching out a 26-24 win. Ten ties in the early action had the set tied at 9-9 before the Engineers used a 6-3 run to go up 15-12. Smith fired back with a 7-1 surge to take a 17-16 lead. Four more ties followed until Smith went up 23-20, but WPI answered with a 3-0 run to tie things at 23-23 on a block from Reynolds and Wierzbicki. Smith had one last surge, however, as the Pioneers closed out the set by winning three of the final four points to go up, 1-0. 

Smith jumped out to a 7-3 lead early in the second set, with the advantage growing to six at 14-8. Three straight WPI points followed, including a pair of aces from Reynolds, but Smith pushed the lead back to six at 19-13 on a Sweeney kill. Trailing 23-19, WPI scored five straight, coming all the way back to tie the set at 24-24 on a swing from Wetmore. The teams traded sideouts until WPI sealed the win by forcing back-to-back Pioneer attack errors, as the Engineers tied the match with a 29-27 win. 

WPI struck first in the third set, going up 3-1, before a 5-0 surge from Smith put the visitors on top, 6-3. The Engineers cut the lead to 6-5, but Smith countered with an 8-3 surge to open their largest lead of the frame at 14-8. After WPI got the lead down to four, the Pioneers took control once again, as a 5-1 run put them up 19-11. The Engineers slowly chipped away, as Wetmore and Wierzbicki each picked up a pair of kills in an 11-4 WPI run that cut the lead to 23-22. Smith, however, got the final surge it needed, closing out the 25-23 win on a kill from Olivia Smith. 

Smith wrapped up the match victory with a solid hitting performance in the final frame, taking it 25-15. Four straight Pioneer points opened the frame, and the Smith lead eventually grew to 7-3 on an Ava Zollinger kill. WPI got it down to a three point deficit on a Wetmore kill, but an 8-0 run pushed the Smith lead to 16-5. The Engineers got no closer than an eight point deficit the rest of the way, as the Pioneers took the most lopsided frame of the night to earn a 3-1 match victory. 

WPI continues its homestand on Saturday, hosting Westfield State at 11am and Gordon at 3pm. Smith also plays a pair of non-conference opponents at home on Saturday, hosting Framingham State and Southern Maine.