Beavers Rally to Win the Final Two Sets, Reach the Sweet 16 for the First Time
POTSDAM, N.Y.—First-year Allie Puccio (New Hartford, N.Y.) had five of her career-high 25 kills in the decisive fifth set as the Babson College women's volleyball team rallied for an epic 3-2 win over Clarkson University in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Potsdam Regional on Saturday night at Alumni Gymnasium. The Beavers took the final two sets to outlast the Golden Knights, 27-29, 25-21, 31-33, 25-23, 15-12, in a match that lasted exactly two-and-a-half hours.
With the victory, Babson improves to 22-9 overall and advances to Sunday's regional final for the first time in school history. Clarkson, which had advanced the national quarterfinals when hosting in four straight years between 2012-15, sees its season come to a close at 22-8.
First-year Gaby Miller (Miami, Fla.) finished with career highs of 18 kills and five blocks, junior Shannon Roseen (Malden, Mass.) added a career-best 16 kills, and sophomore Kristin Carosotto (East Greenwich, R.I.) matched her career high with 12 kills for the second night in a row. Sophomore Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) dished out 60 assists to become the program's single-season leader, while junior Abby Beecher (Pittsford, N.Y.) recorded a career-high 45 digs for the Beavers.
Senior Rachael Aird (East Syracuse, N.Y.) led all players with 26 kills and 10 blocks, while sophomore Rachel Reusch (Buffalo, N.Y.) added 19 kills and five blocks for the Golden Knights. Junior Jillian Saenz (Norwalk, Calif.) finished with 56 assists and sophomore Kate Isaksen (Glenville, N.Y.), the Division III leader in digs per set, led all players with 48 in the loss.
The Green and White rattled off six consecutive points to take a 24-22 lead in the first set, but Clarkson withstood three set points and took advantage of a service ace by Isaksen and an attack error to steal game one. The Golden Knights then built an 11-7 edge in the second before the Beavers responded with a nine-point run to take control of the frame. Puccio had seven kills in the stanza and Roseen had a hand in three of the final five points to even the match at a set apiece.
The teams waged a spectacular third-set battle that featured 19 ties and seven lead changes. Babson led by as many as four early, but Clarkson rallied to go in front 24-23 on the second of back-to-back kills by Aird. The Green and White kept the game alive three times when facing set point, while the Golden Knights were faced with dropping the game on five occasions before Aird and Saenz combined for consecutive blocks to break a 31-all deadlock and take a 2-1 lead.
The Beavers once again responded in a fourth set that had 11 ties and three lead changes. Puccio, Miller and Carosotto combined for 11 kills as Babson rallied from a 20-18 deficit to force a decisive fifth game with a two-point win.
After falling behind 2-0, the Green and White controlled much of the final stanza, taking its biggest lead at 8-5 on a kill by Miller. Clarkson used a pair of kills by Reusch and an ace by Saenz to pull even at 11, but Babson got two kills from Puccio, an ace from Cameron and another kill by Miller on match point to book its ticket to the Sweet 16.
Babson will face Ithaca for the regional championship and a berth in next weekend's national quarterfinals on Sunday at 1 p.m.
• Saturday's match was the first between Babson and Clarkson.
• The Beavers are just the fourth team to defeat the Golden Knights at Alumni Gymnasium going back to the 2013. Clarkson entered the day having won 49 of its last 53 matches at home.
• The Green and White is 2-2 this season in five-set matches and won for the first time in nine tries over the last two years when trailing entering the fourth set.
• Cameron passed Kathleen Lynch '13 as the program's single-season assist leader during the third set. Lynch recorded 948 assists in 2009.
• Babson set new season highs in kills (79), digs (117) and total blocks (11) on Saturday, and eclipsed its previous high of 81 digs by the end of the third set.