Springfield, MA --- The WPI volleyball team rallied from late deficits in the fourth and fifth sets to defeat host Western New England, 3-2, in the 2016 season debut for both squads Thursday evening. The Engineers took the match by scores of 25-21, 26-28, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13.
After scoring the opening six points in the fifth and deciding set on the serving by Azita Bakhtyari (Andover, MA), the Crimson and Gray saw the tables turn as WNE went on a 13-5 run to take a 13-11 advantage. Following a WPI timeout and a WNE service error, kills by Kat Hurlock (Burlington, CT) and Casey Hunt (Granby, CT), sandwiched around a Cassandra Tomerlin (La Quinta, CA) ace sent the Boynton Hillers back to Worcester with the dramatic victory.
The Engineers were down by as many as four points in the fourth set at 18-14 and saw the Golden Bears within a pair of points of victory at 23-23 before the visitors forced the final set.
Hunt led all players of the night with 17 kills and had a solid all-around game with 18 digs and two blocks. Melissa Daigle (Norfolk, MA) joined her in double digits with 11 kills. Bakhtyari also notched a double-double with 18 assists and 13 digs while Shay Feeley (Franklin, MA) doled out 24 assists and Tomerlin (27), and Kelly Rathje (Scituate, MA) (22) combined for 49 digs. Brooke Klepper (Miami Beach, FL) and Hurlock ended with six kills each and Sandra Duarte (Valencia, CA) swatted a solo block and three block assists.
Jenna Leuck (Dumont, NJ) handed out 42 assists and posted 22 digs for Western New England while Sam Heffer (Bethpage, NY) smashed 13 kills and Emily Woodford (Belchertown, MA) totaled 23 digs. Alona Kornberg (Fairlawn, NJ) was the lone Golden Bear with a double—double with 10 kills and 18 digs while Emmaline Chiodini (St. Louis, MO) narrowly missed one of her own with 8 kills and 20 digs.
WPI hosts Nichols in the semifinals of the Worcester City Tournament Saturday at 11am. The championship and consolation are slated for 1pm. All matches will be played in the Sports & Recreation Center. WNE heads to Mount Holyoke Saturday for a trimatch that includes St. Joes (CT).