Volleyball Takes Key NEWMAC Match From Clark, 3-1

BABSON PARK, Mass. – Senior captain Meg Flaherty (Hollis, N.H.) and sophomore Christina Cervini (Shrewsbury, Mass.) combined for 30 kills and junior captain Kathleen Lynch (Quincy, Mass.) dished out 56 assists to propel the Babson College Beavers to a hard-fought 3-1 victory over visiting Clark University in a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's volleyball match on Tuesday night.

Now winners of three straight and five of their last six, the Beavers improved to 9-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference. Meanwhile, the Cougars dipped to 4-7 overall and 1-3 in NEWMAC play.

Flaherty led all players with 18 kills in the win, while Cervini added 12 kills to go with four total blocks. Sophomore Carla Flores (San Juan, Puerto Rico) posted a match-high 32 digs, first-year Kseniya Stepanova (Upland, Calif.) finished with nine kills, 17 digs, and four service aces, and first-year Brianna San Diego (Daly City, Calif.) chipped in with 11 kills. Junior middles Cathy Tinker (Woodbridge, Conn.) and Ashley Strangio (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) each added nine kills in the victory, with Tinker also contributing five total blocks.

Clark was paced by senior Amira Tranchell (Falmouth, Mass.), who recorded 16 kills, 15 digs, and four total blocks, and senior Kristin McGinty (Vail, Colo.), who added 10 kills while leading all players with six total blocks. Sophomore Rachel Spera (North Hollywood, Calif.) recorded 34 assists, senior Kortney Kelley (Barnstable, Mass.) collected 18 digs, and senior Parker Edmonds (Fort Worth, Texas) and junior ToniMarie Illuzzi (Manorville, N.Y.) tossed in six and five kills, respectively.

Babson led for most of the opening set, but Clark stayed close and only trailed by one late, 23-22. However, after a Beaver timeout, Lynch assisted Stepanova and Flaherty on back-to-back kills as the hosts clinched the 25-22 triumph.

Clark jumped out to an immediate 4-0 lead in set two, highlighted by a kill, a solo block, and an assisted block from Tranchell. The Beavers eventually tied it at 17-17 following a 4-0 run of their own midway through the set, and they later moved in front, 20-18, thanks to a Cougar error and a block by Cervini and Tinker. However, Clark later snapped a 22-22 tie with a 3-1 run to close the set, with Tranchell and Spera each contributing a kill and an assist as the visitors evened the overall match with a 25-23 win.

The third set saw Babson surge out to another 4-0 lead, and although Clark would get to within one after a McGinty kill made it 10-9, the Beavers would extend the lead again thanks to an 8-2 burst later in the set. Stepanova served up a pair of aces during the run, which gave the hosts a commanding 21-12 advantage en route to the relatively easy 25-15 victory.

A total of 13 ties and seven lead changes highlighted a dramatic fourth set, which saw Babson pull away for a 23-17 lead late only to have the Cougars storm back to knot the score at 23-23. From there, the two teams battled back and forth until the final two points, when a Flaherty kill and a Clark attack error enabled the Beavers to clinch the set, 28-26, and the match, 3-1.

Both teams return to action with non-conference tri-matches this Saturday. Babson heads to Rivier College to take on Suffolk and the host Raiders, while Clark travels to Rhode Island College to face Westfield State and RIC.

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