Beavers Outlast Previously Unbeaten Jumbos in Five, Sweep Panthers to Run Winning Streak to 11
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—No. 22 Babson College head coach Eric Neely recorded his 200th career win and the Beavers defeated 13th-ranked Tufts University and Middlebury College to capture the program's first New England Challenge title on Saturday afternoon inside Rockwell Cage. The Beavers outlasted the previously unbeaten Jumbos in five sets (25-23, 26-28, 25-14, 27-29, 15-10) and followed it up with a three-set sweep of the Panthers (25-21, 25-22, 27-25).
Senior Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) was selected as the tournament most valuable player for Babson, which improved to 23-1 and has now won 11 consecutive matches. First-year Jordan Lapins (Calgary, Alberta) joined Cameron on the all-touranemnt team.
No. 22 Babson 3, No. 13 Tufts 2
Lapins registered a season-high 21 kills, junior Allie Puccio (New Hartford, N.Y.) put away 17 kills and first-year Laura Zuloaga (Naples, Fla.) hit .400 with 10 kills for the Beavers. Senior Kristin Carosotto (East Greenwich, R.I.) chipped in with eight kills and a match-high seven blocks, while Cameron contributed 55 assists, 11 digs, three aces and two blocks. Junior Cassidy Witten (Honolulu, Hawaii) recorded a team-high 16 digs in the victory.
Senior Maddie Stewart (Menlo Park, Calif.) finished with 21 digs, classmate Rachel Furash (Westlake Village, Calif.) dished out 33 assists and first-year Stephanie Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) led all players with 22 digs to pace the Jumbos.
Babson built a 19-12 lead in the opening set before holding off a late Tufts (19-1) rally thanks to a pair of kills by junior Gaby Miller (Miami, Fla.) for a 1-0 lead. The Beavers led for much of the second frame as well, and had a pair of chances to close out the set before the Jumbos rallied with a late run that included two kills from Stewart, another from first-year Anna Nachmanoff (Arlington, Va.) and a block from senior Heather Holz (Palatine, Ill.).
The Green and White put away 14 kills and hit .619 in game three, which included a closing 8-0 run to regain a 2-1 lead in the match. Tufts registered 21 kills in the fourth and overcame a 23-19 deficit to force a decisive fifth set behind two late kills apiece by Stewart and Nachmanoff.
Trailing 6-4 in the fifth, Lapins recorded a kill and Babson ran off five straight points on the serve of Cameron to forge a 10-6 lead. The Jumbos got as close as three late, but Miller and Carosotto responded with kills to close things out.
No. 22 Babson 3, Middlebury 0
Lapins led all players with 14 kills, Zuloago recorded nine kills in 15 attempts, and Puccio added nine kills and two blocks to pace a balanced Babson attack. Junior Sabrina Lechner (Novato, Calif.) chipped in with six kills and a match-high four blocks, while Cameron contributed 43 assists, 12 digs, three kills and three blocks in the victory.
Sophomore Maggie Wise (Winchester, Va.) and junior Shea Golden (Chapel Hill, N.C.) both had 11 kills for the Panthers. Senior Chellsa Ferdinand (Queens, N.Y.) added 19 assists and six digs in a losing effort.
The Beavers never trailed in game one, registering 18 kills and holding off a late Middlebury (11-7) rally to go in front 1-0. The Panthers led by as many as five in game two and held a 17-13 advantage before the Green and White took its first lead thanks to four kills and an ace from Lapins as part of a 10-4 run. The Panthers took advantage of an error to cut its deficit to 23-22, but Puccio followed with consecutive kills close out the frame.
The third set featured 13 ties and three lead changes with neither side leading by more than three. The Beavers hit .333 in the game and put away 19 kills, the last of which came from Miller at 28-27 to close out the match.
Babson returns to action on Tuesday when it travels to Springfield at 7 p.m.
• The Beavers' victory over Tufts was their first since 2015 and just the second over the Jumbos in program history.
• The five-set victory was Babson's first since it went the distance to defeat Clarkson in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
• Lapins, Puccio and Zuloaga combined to average 9.92 kills per set while hitting .389 in the Beavers' wins over Williams, Tufts and Middlebury at the New England Challenge.
• Cameron handed out 11.73 assists per set and also averaged a team-high 2.91 digs per set in the weekend tournament.