Beavers Extend Winning Streak to 21, Avenge Regular Season Loss to Lions
BABSON PARK, Mass.—Junior Allie Puccio (New Hartford, N.Y.) led all players with 15 kills as top-seeded and 18th-ranked Babson College avenged its only loss of the season by defeating sixth-seeded Emerson College in three sets (25-22, 25-10, 25-14) in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament final on Saturday afternoon inside Staake Gymnasium.
Winners of 21 straight matches, Babson improves to 32-1 overall and earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with its fourth conference tournament championship in the last six seasons. Emerson, which was making its first NEWMAC championship match appearance thanks to five-set victories at MIT and Wellesley, sees its season come to an end at 20-8.
Puccio hit .406 in the match and made just two errors while also recording 14 digs on the way to earning NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Senior Kristin Carosotto (East Greenwich, R.I.) and first-year Jordan Lapins (Calgary, Alberta) both finished with 10 kills, while senior Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) contributed 36 assists and 13 digs for the Beavers. Sophomore Maddie Malee (Orlando, Fla.) led all players with 16 digs in the victory.
Junior Grace Tepper (Kensington, Md.) finished with nine kills and first-year Logan Steenbergen (Glenview, Ill.) added six kills to pace the Lions. Classmate Caroline Bond (Macungie, Pa.) dished out 19 assists and registered 13 digs in the loss.
The opening set featured 16 ties and eight lead changes before the Green and White erased a 22-21 deficit with four straight kills to grab a 1-0 lead. Miller tied it up with her fourth kill of the frame and Puccio, who had eight kills in the stanza, followed with three straight to close out the stanza.
The run continued into game two as the Beavers ripped off eight of the first nine points to build a commanding lead. Babson hit .323 in the set and served up five aces while limiting Emerson to just five kills. Puccio contributed three kills early in the third and Lapins added the first of five in the set to give the Green and White a 10-4 edge.
The Lions got within five thanks to an error on the ensuing serve, but Lapins produced a pair of kills and junior Cassidy Witten (Honolulu, Hawaii) came through with two aces as part of a 6-1 spurt that extended the margin to 16-6. Lapins recorded two more kills late and junior Gaby Miller (Miami, Fla.) and first-year Laura Zuloaga (Naples, Fla.) combined for a block on match point.
Babson, which is currently second in the NCAA New England regional rankings, will find out where it is headed for the opening weekend of NCAA Tournament play on Monday at 12:30 p.m.
• The Beavers are 9-3 all-time against Emerson and Saturday's match was the first between the teams in the postseason.
• Babson has now won 38 consecutive home matches, which is the longest active streak in Division III.
• The Beavers are now 10-3 in the postseason since 2017.
• Babson has won the opening set in 30 of 33 matches this season.