Lord Jeffs Upset MIT and Punch Ticket to National Quarterfinals

From an MIT Release

CAMBRIDGE, MA – In a battle of the at-large bids, No. 3 Amherst College upended No. 1 MIT, 30-25, 30-16, 24-30, 30-23, in the final of the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball New England Regional on Saturday night. The Lord Jeffs (30-4) will meet up with Juniata College on Thursday, Nov. 15 in the Elite Eight which will be hosted by Illinois Wesleyan University. Following their second straight regional final appearance, the Engineers finished the season with a record of 36-3.

MIT tallied three straight points to open the match. Amherst responded with six unanswered points and maintained a slight edge until a block by the Engineers evened the score at 12. After two more ties, the Lord Jeffs regained the advantage (18-17) on a hitting miscue by MIT. Trailing 24-19, the Engineers picked up four of the next five points to come within two (25-23), but it would not be enough as Amherst held on for the win.

Each side traded points to start off the second stanza before a kill by senior tri-captain Whitney Kouvaris (Jacksonville, FL) gave the Lord Jeffs the lead for good at 5-4. MIT stayed within striking distance for most of the game until a seven-point serving run by Amherst's Sara Heller (La Canada, CA) extended its margin to 22-11.

The early stages of the third frame were a back-and-forth affair as it featured eight ties and four lead changes. With the score knotted at 11, a hitting error by the Lord Jeffs sparked a 12-5 run for the Engineers. Amherst was able to narrow the gap to five points on five occasions, the last being at 29-24. A strike from Katie Rowe ended the game and denied the Lord Jeffs a sweep of the match.

With the score tied at six in the fourth game, Amherst slowly established a 17-11 advantage. MIT eventually came within three (21-18), but the Lord Jeffs immediately doubled their lead. The Engineers continued to attack, but they could not overcome the deficit.

Barden Cleeland paced MIT with 19 kills and a .385 hitting percentage while Rowe posted 13 kills and seven blocks. Amanda Morris notched 46 assists and 11 digs as Katrina Ellison contributed six blocks. Carrie Buchanan led the defense with 23 digs while Rose Zhong chipped in 11.

Senior tri-captain Jaclyn DeMais (Hillsdale, NJ) registered a match-high 27 kills and 25 digs while Kouvaris tallied 11 kills and three blocks. First-year Rachel Yorke (Los Angeles, CA) and senior tri-captain Julie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) bolstered Amherst's dig total, collecting 24 and 15, respectively. Heller dished out 51 assists as first-year Jackie Berkley (Fullerton, CA) totaled three blocks.