Worcester, Mass. – Buoyed by a raucous crowd and some hot-hitting, third-seeded Clark University defeated No. 6 seed Wellesley College 3-0 on Tuesday evening in a New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) volleyball quarterfinal match.
With the win, the Cougars extend their home court winning streak to 16 straight and wrap up their 2016 home slate a perfect 13-0.
The victory also sends Clark to their second consecutive conference tournament semifinal, which will take place on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against No. 2 seed Springfield College at MIT's Rockwell Cage.
Score: Clark University 3, Wellesley College 0
Records: Clark University 22-7, Wellesley College 12-16
Location: Kneller Athletic Center, Worcester, Mass.
How It Happened:
Wellesley jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set as both Yasmine Reece (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and Meghan Shoop (Cypress, Calif.) got kills in the opening moments. The Scarlet and White answered back and moved ahead for the first time at 6-5 following a service ace from Courtney Pharr (Seattle, Wash.).
Clark went on to build their advantage to 14-7 as their service game continued to excel with a pair of aces coming from Ana Mercado (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico).
The Blue fought back to 15-10, but more aces from Clark and a few attack errors from the visitors had the Cougars ahead 22-11.
Wellesley hung tough but Clark was in front 24-14 when the Blue recorded three straight points to tighten the gap. The Scarlet and White eventually closed out the set, 25-17.
The second set saw the Cougars get ahead early, racing out to a 9-3 lead following a kill from Jacqueline Jimenez-Maldonado (San Francisco, Calif.).
Wellesley clawed back and were as close as 12-10 after a Michelle Li (Scarsdale, N.Y.) kill, but Clark pushed ahead again, making the score 15-10 after a Marina Ramos (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) kill.
A scoring spurt by Wellesley made the score 16-16 forcing a Cougar timeout as Reece, Shoop and Ashley Peng (San Diego, Calif.) all recorded kills.
The Blue went ahead 19-17 with Reece on the serve, but a Mercado spike ignited a Clark burst that featured a block from Hannah Fox (Dracut, Mass.) and Mercado and another ace from Pharr.
In front 22-20, the Cougars took advantage of a Wellesley attack error, a Mercado ace and then another Blue mishit to seal the second set.
Now ahead 2-0, Clark stepped on the gas and put the match away by hitting .519 in the third frame. The set was actually knotted at 4-4, but the Cougars scored five straight to go ahead 9-5. Wellesley inched to within three at 12-9 but then Ramos went to work and hammered down three straight kills and the Scarlet and White never looked back enroute to the match clinching 25-14 triumph.
Star of The Match:
Ramos took over in the third set on her way to 12 kills and ten digs on a sizzling .462 hitting – her 20th double-double of the season.
Inside The Numbers:
Webb dished out 30 assists on the night to become the first player in school history to hand out 1,000 assists in a single season. To put her season into perspective, only four other student-athletes have more than 1,000 career assists.
Mercado had an excellent all-around effort, finishing with 11 kills, four service aces and four blocks, while Pharr was just as effective, ending with six kills, five digs, four service aces and three blocks.
Webb wasn't the only one to eclipse a milestone. Mia Cattaneo (Santa Barbara, Calif.), ended with a match-high 12 digs, giving her 490 for the season, eclipsing her school record off 484 set just last season.
For The Visitors:
Wellesley was paced by Reece, who registered her eighth double-double of the season, tallying match highs of 13 kills and 12 digs, while Shoop had eight kills and eight digs of her own.
"We played with the passion and defense we needed to defeat a great team in Wellesley," said Clark head coach Mickey Cahoon. "The crowd was awesome and we had outstanding energy all match."