WORCESTER -- The WPI volleyball team battled to the finish but was unable to overcome the Blue as they fell 3-1 to Wellesley in the final game of the 2021 season on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the game, WPI (17-7, 3-7 NEMWAC) honored its seniors and graduate students who played in the final game of their career. Honored today were graduate students Kayleigh Campbell (Wilbraham, MA) and Amanda Wetmore (Hudson, NH) as well as seniors Kaleigh Hess (Berea, KY), Suela Miloshi (Needham, MA) and Lilly Taylor (Weymouth, MA).
Wetmore led the way for the Engineers with 14 kills, nine digs and a pair of blocks and services aces while Maddie Sanborn (Londonderry, NH) added 12 kills. Catherine Reynolds (Concord, NH) finished with 30 assists while Jia Yazon (South Windsor, CT) also tacked on nine digs in the outing.
Wellesley (9-11, 4-6 NEWMAC) was led by Nicole Doerges (San Marino, CA) who finished with 21 kills, 10 digs and four service aces while TylerBell Smith (Frisco, TX) added 18 kills on 29 attempts for a .448 hitting percentage, also making four blocks. With Smith falling to 3-0 to nationally-ranked Babson and Clark defeated by Wheaton, the Blue fall into a three-way tie with the Pioneers and Cougars for the final two spots in the NEWMAC Tournament. The three squads all went 1-1 against each other so we'll wait until Saturday evening when the NEWMAC announces its tournament field to see how the tie-breaking protocols played out.
In an evenly matched first set, Wellesley came away with the first set victory, 25-20. The Blue were able to earn a three-point cushion early that they were able to maintain for the majority of the first set. After a 2-0 start to the game, WPI evened the score at 3-all but a service ace by Claire Bialek (Brookline, MA) made it a 5-3 game in favor of the Blue. The two teams traded points all set long and after WPI closed the gap with a 3-0 run to make it a 20-19 ballgame behind back-to-back kills from Sanborn, Wellesley responded with a 3-0 run of its own en route to the win.
WPI bounced back in set number two with a 25-19 win and it was a set of runs. The Engineers jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead thanks to a pair of aces from Yazon and Paige Garland (Nashua, NH) and timely kills from Wetmore and Natalia Wierzbicki (Wareham, MA). Wellesley answered back in the middle of the set with a 7-1 run of its own to make it a 15-11 ballgame, but would be unable to get any closer as WPI immediately rallied off five straight points thanks to a trio of kills from Sanborn and a Reynolds ace en route to the win.
Another evenly matched set number three went in favor of the Blue. The two teams traded points early on until Wellesley was able to put together an 8-2 run to bust out to a 15-9 advantage capped off by a Bialek ace. A late 3-0 run by the Engineers, behind a pair of Wetmore kills, made it a 22-18 game, but Wellesley was able to hang on for the victory.
Wellesley closed the game out in set number four. The Blue took a 9-4 advantage early on capped by a Doerges ace though WPI got within one utilizing a 4-0 run behind a pair of Garland kills and Miloshi aces to make it a 14-13 game. Wellesley was able to respond with a 5-1 run of its own to regain a 19-14 advantage finishing things with a Smith kill to seal the victory.