MEDFORD, Mass.—No. 16 Babson College saw its historic season come to a close in a four-set loss (25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23) loss to 21st-ranked Johnson & Wales University in an NCAA Tournament second round match on Saturday afternoon inside Cousens Gymnasium.
Babson, which set a new single-season record for victories, closes the season at 33-2 overall after having its 22-match winning streak snapped on Saturday. Johnson & Wales, which advanced to its third straight regional final, improves to 29-4 overall and will face Bowdoin on Sunday afternoon.
Junior Allie Puccio (New Hartford, N.Y.) and first-year Jordan Lapins (Calgary, Alberta) recorded 13 kills apiece for the Beavers. Senior Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) dished out 44 assists, and sophomore Maddie Malee (Orlando, Fla.) led four players in double figures with 22 digs.
Senior Kate Walker (Oakland, Calif.) led all players with 17 kills, classmate Hannah Dolan (San Clemente, Calif.) added 13 kills, and fellow senior Maria Coniglio (Old Bethpage, N.Y.) contributed 12 kills, 12 digs and four blocks to pace the Wildcats. Senior Brylee Frank (Palm City, Fla.) recorded 38 assists and 21 digs, while junior Elyssa Nicolas (San Francisco, Calif.) led all players with 24 digs.
The Green and White led for much of the opening game but made 11 errors and saw Johnson & Wales close with a 5-0 run that included a kill from Walker and a pair of blocks by Walker and Coniglio for a one-set lead. The Beavers responded in game two, using kills by Lapins, junior Gaby Miller (Miami, Fla.) and Puccio, as well as a service ace by junior Cassidy Witten (Honolulu, Hawaii) to turn a 19-all deadlock into a 23-20 lead. The Wildcats closed to within one, but Puccio countered with a kill and Babson evened the match one point later on an error by Frank.
Five different players recorded a kill as the Beavers jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the third set. Johnson & Wales took advantage of three service errors and then rattled off a 7-0 run that included two kills by Dolan and two aces from Frank to take its first lead of the stanza at 14-13. Babson went back in front 18-15 thanks to two straight kills by junior Sabrina Lechner (Novato, Calif.) and held a 20-16 lead after consecutive kills from Lapins before the Wildcats scored nine of the next 10 points.
Walker produced four kills and senior Mikayla Arimura (San Clemente, Calif.) served up two aces as Johnson & Wales won the pivotal third set. The Green and White took its last lead of the fourth set at 9-8 on a kill by Miller, and was down just one at 18-17 before the Wildcats used a key 5-1 spurt that included two kills from Walker and another from Dolan to extend their lead to 23-18. Kills by first-year Laura Zuloaga (Naples, Fla.) and Miller cut the Babson deficit to 24-23, but Coniglio recorded her final kill of the night on match point for Johnson & Wales.
• Babson, which was making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, advanced to the regional final in both 2017 and 2018.
• The Beavers' senior class of Cameron, Kristin Carosotto (East Greenwich, R.I.), Erica Schwegman (Birmingham, Mich.) and Emily Woodward (Deerfield, Mass.) won a program-record 99 matches since arriving on campus in the fall of 2016.
• Cameron graduates as the program's all-time leader in assists (3,912), while Carosotto is Babson's all-time leader with 322 total blocks.
• Saturday's match marked just the fourth time the Beavers dropped the first this season, and was just the fifth time in 35 matches that they failed to hit at least .200 as a team.