BABSON PARK, Mass.—Senior Kelsey DePorto had a match-high 16 kills while freshman Rebekah Muller had 15 kills and 14 digs as Coast Guard became the first ever sixth-seed to advance to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Volleyball tournament semifinals with a 3-1 win over third-seeded Babson.
Coast Guard won by game scores of 25-21, 23-25, 25-20 and 25-23 to avenge an earlier loss during the regular season when Babson beat Coast Guard 3-2 (25-18, 25-19, 25-27, 20-25, 15-13) on October 1st in New London.
The Bears advance to the NEWMAC tournament semifinals for the 13th straight season and improve to 22-8 on the year while Babson, which was trying to get to the semifinals for the first time in program history, drops to 18-12.
Coast Guard will now take on second-seeded Wellesley on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the semifinals at top-seeded Springfield. The Blue beat Coast Guard 3-0 on Oct. 29th at Wellesley. The top-seeded Pride will take on fourth-seeded MIT in the other semifinal at 1 p.m. The championship match is Sunday at 1 p.m.
Coast Guard started quick in the opening set jumping out to a 7-2 lead. The Bears led 12-6 before Babson responded with eight of the next nine points to take the lead 14-13. The set was tied 17-17 when the Bears ran off three straight points to ignite a 7-2 spurt giving Coast Guard a 24-19 edge. Babson fought off a pair of set points before the Bears won the opener 25-21.
The Bears led 8-5 in the second set before Babson scored seven of the next ten points to take its first lead of the set 12-11. Coast Guard led 16-15 when the Beavers scored four straight on three kills by sophomore Mary Donahue for a 19-16 lead. Coast Guard answered with three straight as freshman Rebekah Muller had a pair of kills to tie it a 19-19. With the score tied 21-21, Babson scored the next two and held on for the 25-23 win.
In the third set, Coast Guard scored three straight to open up its largest lead of the set at 15-10, but Babson answered with three straight of its own to make it 15-13. The Bears then counter punched with four in a row increasing their lead to 19-13 en route to a 25-20 win.
The Beavers began the fourth set with three straight aces from sophomore Krissy Robertson, but with Babson leading 7-6, Coast Guard used an 8-2 run to take a 14-9 lead. With Coast Guard leading 15-10, Babson scored four straight to close to 15-14. The Bears never gave up that lead and led 24-21 before the Beavers fought off a pair of match points before falling 25-23.
"Tonight was an exciting night for the Bears. We played as a team and that really showed," said Coast Guard head coach Aylene Ilkson. "To be able to beat a quality team like Babson on road, after losing to them in the regular season is a great stepping stone heading into the semifinals on Saturday."
This is just the second time in the 16-year history of the NEWMAC tournament that the top four seeds will not advance to the semifinals. In 2004, fifth-seeded Wellesley beat fourth-seeded Smith in the quarterfinals.