WORCESTER -- Tournament MVP Azita Bakhtyari (Andover, MA) totaled 31 assists as host WPI won a pair of matches Saturday en route to capturing its ninth all-time Worcester City Volleyball Tournament title.
The Engineers defeated Nichols 3-0 (25-7, 25-15, 25-14) in the opening round of the 32nd annual event while also registering a 3-0 victory (25-15, 25-23, 25-20) over Worcester State in the title tilt. The Lancers advanced to the championship game with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-23) semifinal victory over Becker, which defeat Nichols by a 3-0 count (27-25, 25-20, 25-15) in the consolation match.
WPI win over Nichols in the semifinals was historic in two ways. It marked the 300th career victory for Crimson and Gray head coach Greg Poole while also serving as the first match in Bison program history. Melissa Daigle (Norfolk, MA) and Sandra Duarte (Valencia, CA) both amassed seven kills in the opener without committing a hitting error while Maddy Werth (Epping, NH) also notched seven kills while only committing one error. As a team, the Engineers hit an impressive .500 clip, totaling 41 kills and making just six errors in 70 tries. Bakhtyari (12), Caroline Meyer (Easton, MA) (11) and Shay Feeley (Franklin, MA) (10) all reached double digits in assists while Victoria Nassar (Salem, NH) led the dig parade with eight. J'ena Baker (Rockledge, FL) paced the Bison with seven kills and Moriah Burns (Holland, MA) handed out 13 assists on just 14 team kills.
The Lancers reached the finals with a balanced hitting attack in their victory over Becker. Quinn Donovan (Marion, MA) recorded a team-best seven kills with Stephanie Chapin (Hampden, MA) and Emily Carens (Northboro, MA) both tallying six and Sarah Powers (Hopkinton, MA) finishing with five. Alexandra Nolan (Melrose, MA) paced all players in the semifinal round with 14 assists and six aces and six digs, while Megan Leavens (West Boylston, MA) ended with 11 digs. Charlene Landry (Gorham, ME) and Marissa Turner (Coventry, RI) both nailed four kills for the Hawks, who got three aces from Kayla Dupree (North Bergen, NJ) and five assists and five digs from Morgan Gould (North Attleboro, MA).
In the championship match versus Worcester State, Werth smoked eight kills with Casey Hunt (Granby, MA) chipping in with seven and Kat Hurlock (Burlington CT) and Durate adding six apiece. Bakhtyari (19) and Feeley (15) combined for 34 assists while Hunt and Cassandrea Tomerlin (La Quinta, CA) both dugout 14 balls. Nolan accounted for 22 of the Lancers' 25 assists while Katrina Kangwijaya (Dunstable, MA) posted a match-best 19 digs and Powers and Chapin shared team-high honors with six kills each.
Durpree (9), Turner (8) and Landry (8) combined for 25 kills as Becker took the third place match in straight sets over Nichols Landry added 13 assists and 13 digs to finish with a triple-double for the Hawks and Brittney Bullis (Stafford, VA) totaled 10 digs. Monica Pucko (Gardner, MA) led the way for the Bison with seven kills and just two errors in 19 attempts while Baker collected 13 digs and Burns handed out 10 helpers.
The title was the ninth in program history for WPI, tying the Engineers for second all-time with Division II Assumption and just two behind all-time leader Clark. The three schools have combined for 29 of the 32 championships with Holy Cross (2) and Worcester State accounting for the other three crowns.
Bakhtyari was joined on the all-tournament by WPI teammate Duarte, Worcester State's Kangwijaya and Carens, Bullis of Becker and Baker from Nichols.
WPI (3-0) is back in action Tuesday at 7pm at Anna Maria. Worcester State (1-1) entertains UMass Dartmouth Wednesday in its home opener at 7pm while Becker (1-1) heads to Dean the same day and Nichols ventures to Mass Maritime on Thursday.
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