Comeback victory sends women’s volleyball to NEWMAC championship

The women’s volleyball team will advance to the NEWMAC playoff championship game for the first time in program history following a comeback victory against Wellesley College in the semifinals on Thursday.

This is the second game in a row the Lions won after falling to an early 2-0 deficit. The team rallied back from being down 2-0 against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference quarterfinals on Tuesday and repeated in the semifinals against Wellesley.

The Lions opened their regular season against the Blue on Sept. 17 and lost 3-0 at home. 

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“Wellesley was our first conference and home game and we were playing with nerves,” head coach Ben Read said in a post-game interview. “It was our first conference game and we wanted it so badly, but we didn’t [win]. I thought we could beat them if we saw them again.” 

In the first set, the Lions and Blue traded points back and forth, and neither team held a significant advantage over the other. However, the Blue took the 26-24 set win after an attacking error by the Lions.

Junior outside hitter Grace Tepper recorded her 1,000th career kill in the set and sent the traveling Emerson fan section into an uproar. 

“I’ve been looking forward to [hitting the milestone] for a long time, but it didn’t even matter today,” Tepper said in a post-game interview. “I am so proud of the team.”

“I knew it was coming,” Read said. “It was just about how many over 1,000 today. She did great, unbelievable.”

Anna Phillips (left), Carolyn Vaimoso (middle), and Lauren Quan (right) celebrate after defeating Wellesley. Montse Landeros / Beacon Staff

 

The Lions took an early 6-1 lead in the second set, but the Blue battled back and won 25-23. 

The third set remained tightly contested with neither team gaining an advantage of more than two points, but freshman setter Caroline Bond secured the 28-26 win with a service ace.

In the fourth set, the Lions and Blue both recorded ten kills and ten errors, but two more service aces gave the Lions the set win to tie the game at 2-2.

The Lions took an early 2-1 lead and never trailed throughout the set. Tepper, junior outside hitter Albany Alexander, and freshman Logan Steenbergen combined for seven kills while the Blue committed eight errors to give the Lions the 15-10 set win and game win.

“We turned it around the same way we did against MIT and the team made some great adjustments,” Read said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Lions will advance to the NEWMAC Championship game against the Babson Beavers on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.

The Beavers are the first-seeded team in the conference and have only one loss this season—a 3-1 defeat to the Lions on Sept. 24.

This article was updated on Friday, Nov. 8 to change the time of the NEWMAC women’s volleyball championship to 2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. The official start time was changed Friday morning.

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