Volleyball Comes From Behind For 3-1 Victory Over Smith

Photo of the Lyons volleyball team cheering following a win over MCLA to open the 2018 season.

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - The Mount Holyoke College volleyball team battled back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Smith College, 3-1 (14-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-13) in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Tuesday evening. With the victory, the Lyons move to 8-13 overall and 1-8 in conference play, while the Pioneers slip to 3-21 and 0-9 in the NEWMAC.

Smith came out firing in the opening frame, taking the first set by a 25-14 margin, including eight kills from sophomore outside hitter Amy Hagen (Owings, Md./Northern). The two teams kept things tight to open the second set, but the Lyons opened up an 8-2 lead behind a kill from rookie outside hitter Sarah Bishop (Rutland, Mass./Wachusett Regional).

The lead proved to be short-lived as Smith closed the gap to 8-7 behind two more kills from Hagen. Three consecutive kills from senior captain and middle hitter Jamesa Allen (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) widened the Lyons advantage once more. A kill from junior opposite Charlotte Strine (Wilmington, Del./Brooklyn Friends School) got the visitors to within two, but seven of the next eight points went in favor of the home team for the 25-17 edge.

Mount Holyoke once again opened a wide margin in the third set, taking a 12-6 lead on a kill from Allen. Smith saw junior opposite Iris Afantchao (Windsor, Conn./Windsor) lay down a strike to make it 21-15, but MHC rallied once more to push it to set point. The Pioneers cut the deficit once more (24-18), but a kill from senior captain and right side Sarah Caggiano (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown) sealed the set win.

Heading into the fourth set, the Lyons once again took control with a quick 16-9 lead behind a kill from junior middle hitter Sasha Simine (Kitchener, Ont./Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute). Another 6-0 run followed, which included a pair of kills from Caggiano to earn the 22-10 margin and a final kill from Allen clinched the match victory.

For MHC, Simine recorded 13 kills on 26 attempts for a .462 hitting percentage. She also posted a game-best four block solos and four block assists. Allen also had 13 kills on 25 attempts for a .400 hitting percentage. She also boasted a service ace, a block assist and four digs. Caggiano had nine kills and a match-best five block assists, while Bishop posted seven kills and a match-high 16 digs. Sophomore setter Brayden Walden (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North) notched a match-leading 37 assists.

Smith was paced by a match-best 21 kills from Hagen, who also added five digs. Junior defensive specialist Helena Wiatrowski (Winchester, Mass./Winchester) notched a match-high 16 digs, while Afantchao had a block solo, three block assists and five kills. Junior setter Kimani Freeman (Newark, N.J./Montclair Kimberly Academy) added 32 assists and a service ace to go along with six digs and a block assist.

The Lyons also recognized their five graduating seniors prior to the contest, including Allen, Caggiano, outside hitter Isabell Linde (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Catholic), libero Cameron Graham (Sarasota, Fla./The Out of Door Academy) and defensive specialist Loriya Thao (St. Paul, Minn./Como Park).

Mount Holyoke returns to action on Saturday when it closes out its regular season schedule at Babson. The Lyons will take on the host Beavers at 11am, followed by a non-conference match against Worcester State at 1pm. Smith concludes its regular season on Saturday as well, traveling to Worcester to face Clark in NEWMAC action at 1pm.