SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Powered by a 21-kill effort from junior outside hitter Emma Sweeting, the Mount Holyoke College volleyball team defeated Smith, 3-0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-21) in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Tuesday evening. With the win, the Lyons post their first conference victory and are now 4-21 overall and 1-8 in the NEWMAC. Smith slips to 6-20 and 1-8 in conference play.
The victory for the Lyons also marked the first win against the Pioneers since the 2011 season. Smith had posted four straight wins against Mount Holyoke, including two in the last two years during conference play.
In the opening set, Mount Holyoke battled back from a 9-7 deficit to the tie the frame at 9-all on an attacking error by the Pioneers. The Lyons went on to rattle off four straight points, including two service aces from senior setter Stephany Yang (Glen Allen, Va./Henrico) to take a 13-9 advantage.
Smith retaliated with kills from first year outside hitter Xela Miller (Granada Hills, Calif./James Monroe) and sophomore opposite Allison Hardy (Nashville, Tenn./University School of Nashville), but the Lyons once again laid down a 5-0 run, including three kills from Sweeting (Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y./Hastings) to take control of the set. A pair of late kills from first year outside hitter Katrina Meserve (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth) sealed the set win.
The middle set saw the Lyons dominate once more as the home team opened up a 16-6 edge, powered by kills from defensive specialist Kaleen Iwema (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township) and middle hitter Rebecca Bland (Durham, N.C./Carolina Friends School). A kill from Smith's Lauren Shaffer (Downey, Calif./Whittier Christian) helped cut down the deficit, but seven straight points from the Lyons offense, including two kills from Sweeting, gave MHC the middle victory.
Smith charged out to the lead in the third set, going up by a 6-1 margin. Aiding the effort were kills from Shaffer and Hardy. Mount Holyoke battled back and was able to tie it at 10-all on a kill from Bland, but the Pioneers continued to battle. The two teams saw two more ties before Mount Holyoke began to pull away.
Capitalizing on an attacking error, MHC saw Sweeting lay down a kill to make it 23-19, but Smith refused to quit as an error on the Lyons and a kill from Shaffer pulled it to 23-21 for MHC. The Lyons were able to close out the set and the match victory on an error and the 21st kill of the match from Sweeting.
In addition to Sweeting, who also six digs, a block assist and a block solo, the Lyons saw Meserve finish with eight kills and a team-high 15 digs. Iwema chipped in with four kills and 13 digs, while Yang added 12 assists and 12 digs. Sophomore setter Natalie Lyon (Oakton, Va./Flint Hill School) posted a match-best 20 assists as well as a match-high three service aces.
For Smith, the Pioneers saw Shaffer lay down a team-best nine kills with two service aces. Miller added four kills, 11 digs and a block assist, while Hardy had 15 digs, two kills and a service ace. First year setter/outside hitter Dayra Diaz Marquez (Bayamon, Puerto Rico/New Mission) notched a match-best 21 digs with nine assists.
The Lyons are back in action on Saturday when they close out the regular season at home against WPI at 1pm. That game will see MHC honor its four seniors. Smith also concludes its regular season on Saturday in a 4pm home contest against Wheaton.