Cambridge, MA – MIT's (22-2) strong performance in the third set was the key factor in defeating Williams College (11-9) in four sets.
For the third set, MIT jumped out to an early 12-3 lead behind five kills, two aces, and a Williams error. The MIT barrage was led by four kills from Abby Bertics. This made it difficult for the Ephs to string together long rallies, and instead, they had to rely on short little ones. The most impressive characteristic of this set does not show up in the stat line because it is an intangible; it is the grit Williams demonstrated. It took strong serving from multiple players and hustle from all, but the Ephs were able to rally within five points of MIT. MIT's lead was too great as they won 25-20, but Williams' battle back displayed exceptional heart.
Coming into the evening's match, MIT had a strong record, with only two losses. However, Williams was undeterred and came ready to play. A total of twelve ties contributed to an intense, back and forth first set. Williams senior Mia Weinland led the Ephs with three kills during this set and junior Daiana Takashima had four digs. MIT's offense was too much as they broke an 18-18 tie and went on a three-point run led by a kill from senior Carly Staub, a double block from Carly Staub and fellow senior Abby Bertics, and an ace from freshman Margaret Wang. This rally gave MIT needed momentum to be victorious, 25-22.
In the second set, Williams built on the positives from the first set. The Ephs stayed focused, energetic, and played confident volleyball. Early on, Williams built a four-point lead, but MIT fought to get back into it, forcing another intense match filled with powerful swings, well-placed tips, and athletic plays. A dynamic kill from Mia Weinland gave the Ephs the lead 20-19, and although MIT shortened the Williams lead to one point, Williams played together and utilized two clutch kills from senior Roxi Corbeil to surge to the victory 25-22.
For the fourth set, MIT used their performance from the third set to quickly establish a three-point lead over Williams and continued to build on this. It looked like MIT was going to coast to the victory, but as was displayed in the third set, Williams was not going to go away. Williams junior Erin Denham and freshman Olivia Hindy both contributed two kills to bring the Ephs back into the set. A MIT error, an ace from Daiana Takashima, a double block from Mia Weinland and senior Tess Richman brought the score within one point. However, MIT rebounded and ended up winning this set 25-22.
MIT was led by Abby Bertics with twenty-three kills, senior Christina Liao with fifty assists, and senior Carly Silvernale with eighteen digs. Williams was led by Mia Weinland with fourteen kills, junior Alex Newton with thirty-eight assists, and Daiana Takashima with fifteen digs.
Head coach Christi Kelsey remarked, "I was really proud of how the team battled tonight. They played incredibly well in the second set and then rebounded in a great way in the fourth but came up just short. We faced a couple challenges in the middle of the match, and they really rose up as a group and responded well. We are looking forward to another opportunity tomorrow to keep improving and building on how we play."
On Saturday, October 20th, Williams will take on Springfield at 11:00 A.M. and Babson at 3:30 P.M. for the second day of play at the New England Challenge.