Volleyball Fends Off Five Set Woes in Non-Conference Action Versus Western New England

Brooke Klepper
Brooke Klepper

WORCESTER -- Senior Melissa Daigle (Norfolk, MA) and freshman Sarah Kwatinetz (Seattle, WA) were key down the stretch in a 3-2 victory over visiting Western New England in a women's volleyball contest inside Harrington Auditorium.

The Engineers, who were 0-4 in five-set matches, improves to 3-5 while the Golden Bears slip to 3-6 on the year.

WPI held the 8-6 advantage at the court change in the deciding set. After a kill by senior Emmaline Chiodini (St. Louis, MO), junior Casey Hunt's (Granby, CT) swipe, along with a trio of errors, and two kills by Daigle the Engineers were up 14-7. Sophomore Caitlyn Sibiskie's (Rockfall, CT) kill staved off the match point before Kwatinetz provided the game-ending swipe.

Hunt and freshman Amanda Wetmore (Hudson, NH) each tallied 13 kills on the night with Daigle checking in with nine. Junior Azita Bakhtyari (Andover, MA), who doled out her 1,000th assist on Saturday, added 35 helpers and 23 digs. Senior Ann Kaczowka (Seekonk, MA) also amassed 23 digs followed by 17 by junior Victoria Nassar (Salem, NH), 15 by Hunt and 11 by senior Kelly Rathje (Scituate, MA).

Senior Sam Heffer (Bethpage, NY) led the Golden Bears with 13 kills while Chiodini added a dozen, and classmate Alona Kornberg (Fair Lawn, NJ) chipped in with 10. Sibiskie totaled 34 assists and 18 digs. Senior Brianna Roath (Jackson, NJ) shared match-high honors with 35 digs as Chiodini (19) and Kornberg (12) completed their double-doubles with a combined for 31 digs.

While the first set was relatively even until WPI claimed the 20-13 lead, the Engineers margin had been up to five twice, 12-7 following a kill by Bakhtyari and 18-13 after a Golden Bear miscue. The visitors benefitted by a string of miscues make it a two-point difference at 20-18, forcing a WPI timeout. The teams traded side outs until a kill by Wetmore and senior Brooke Klepper (Miami Beach, FL) put the hosts ahead 23-20. An attack error and a block by Kwatinetz and Klepper closed out the set.

Western New England jumped out to a 7-3 lead and went on to own a 13-4 advantage and never looked back. The second-set spurt included a kill and two aces by sophomore Cassandra Holmes (Ellington, CT) and a swipe by Kornberg.

The third set was a close one with WPI eventually grabbing a 20-14 lead following a kill by Kwatinetz and a miscue by WNE. Wetmore's kill made it 24-18 while a miscue sent the teams into the fourth set with the Engineers leading 2-1.

Leading 13-9, WNE rattled off five points to break away with the 18-9 cushion. The Engineers clawed their way back with a 6-1 run featuring a pair of kills by Wetmore. Back-to-back kills by Chiodini halted the momentum en route to forcing the fifth set.

WPI jumps back into NEWMAC action Saturday with a 2016 quarterfinal rematch at Springfield. First serve is set for 1pm. WNE is at Framingham State Saturday for an 11am trimatch with Colby-Sawyer.