Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Women’s volleyball falls to MIT in NEWMAC Quarterfinals

Riley Goldman
Junior rightside Parker Cummings (3) and Senior middle Isabella Cubba (16) combine for the stuff block against MIT in the 2023 NEWMAC Quarterfinals.

Emerson fans, with flags and merchandise in tow, trekked from Boston’s Boylston Street to Vassar Street in Cambridge on Tuesday night to watch the no. 6 Lions face off against the nno. 3 MIT Engineers. The Lions played a hard-fought game, but they ultimately lost 3-0. 

The Emerson women’s volleyball team’s season came to an end at the hands of MIT, the no. 18 ranked team in the country. MIT are also the defending NEWMAC champions and went to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Div. III volleyball tournament last year. Emerson (NEWMAC 5-6) was outmatched as MIT (NEWMAC 9-2) was stronger in most areas of play. 

“We definitely gave our all, and we left it on the court,” said Head Coach Ben Read. “The tough part was we came up against a very hot serving team in MIT that literally served us off the court. We did some good things the first set, we out hit them, we out blocked them…They were incredible from the service line and we weren’t as good as we usually are in services.” 

The first set started rocky, with eight straight points from MIT, but the Lions came back with six straight points of their own, helped by errors and service aces by the Engineers. Seven service aces did not help the Lions’ cause and the Engineers finished them off with three kills to win the set 25-18. 

“We felt the energy today. It’s hard when you’re playing an away game and you have a big crowd of the other team’s fans,” said graduate student defensive specialist Andrea Mendez. 

The second set was a much closer contest, with no team scoring more than four points in a row. The Lions kept up with the Engineers as junior outside hitter Amelia Combs, junior rightside hitter Parker Cummings, freshman outside hitter Rachel Dickerson, and junior rightside hitter Brooke Maynez each had multiple kills. MIT responded with kills of their own and ultimately won the set on an Emerson error, 25-23. 

MIT dominated the third set with 10 kills, while attack errors and service aces hindered the Lions. Three stretches where MIT scored four to six points consecutively didn’t help, either. Emerson lost the game on an attack error and the large number of MIT fans cheered from the stands. 

Despite the loss, the players and Read were proud of what they accomplished this season. 

“I’m really proud of our team. I think we left a lot on the court,” said junior rightside hitter Parker Cummings. “There were definitely some times we were down, but we fought hard. I think we definitely made the improvements we needed to.” 

“We’ve been going to the playoffs the past four years. It hasn’t always been the case. We got some pretty high expectations and we did some awesome things this season,” said Coach Read. “We had a couple of tough losses that we know we could maybe win on different days, but that’s volleyball. That’s why you play the game.” 

Freshman outside Rachel Dickerson (17) with a pass in serve receive against MIT in the 2023 NEWMAC Quarterfinals. (Riley Goldman for The Beacon)

Read said he was proud of the team and their accomplishments, being regionally ranked and making it to the playoffs. This is not normal for the women’s volleyball program, who had a five year playoff drought until 2019. Now they have a four year playoff appearance streak. 

Cummings said her favorite part was going to the mid-September Quad at New York University, ranked no. 4 in the country.  

“We had a great time and we played really well,” said Cummings. “We took a set against NYU, which was super awesome.”

As the season comes to an end, it is also the end of playing volleyball for some of Emerson’s senior and graduate student players. Cummings and Read both shouted out the two seniors and one graduate student leaving the team: Caroline Davis, Isabella Cubba, and Andrea Mendez.

“Andrea, Caroline, and Isabella have done an incredible job,” said Coach Read. “They’re going to be missed. It’s not going to be the same without them.” 

Mendez was emotional after the game ended as she has played at Emerson since 2019. 

“It feels very bittersweet for sure. It never gets easier,” said Mendez. “My freshman year we made it to the finals. We beat MIT in the quarterfinals. It’s kind of like a deja vu moment for me. It’s okay. You win some, you lose some in life, and that’s what volleyball has taught me.” 

Despite the season ending, players and coaches are looking forward to a bright future next season as several freshman players had very promising starts. 

“They are going to build a little more confidence, a little more familiarity with our systems and with the conference teams,” said Coach Read. “It’s exciting to see where the future of the program is going to be.” 

Mendez is also optimistic about the future of the team. 

“I feel like the Emerson volleyball women’s team passes the torch on,” said Mendez. “ I’ve seen a lot of players come and go, but our core values are always there. We try to instill that with each and every single player that comes into our team. I think that’s very important to us. We’re all best friends and I think that makes Emerson volleyball what it is.” 

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