VB: Cougars Close 2019 Campaign with 3-1 Victory at Smith

Photo: Katie Morrison
Photo: Katie Morrison

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Clark University volleyball team closed the 2019 campaign on a positive note as the Cougars topped Smith College, 3-1, in a New England and Women's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) bout to pick up their sixth straight victory.

The Basics

Score: Cougars 3, Pioneers 1 (16-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-19)

Records: Clark University (11-17, 2-7 NEWMAC) | Smith College (8-20, 1-8 NEWMAC)

How it Happened

Clark University's six-match winning streak marked the longest in two seasons as the team hit a stride late in the year.

Junior Sophia Torino (Los Angeles, Calif.) has been pivotal during the stretch with the setter notching her fifth straight 30-plus assist outing on Saturday, leading the team with 30 helpers in the NEWMAC victory.

First-year Cameron Gill (Shrewsbury, Mass.) continued her strong play as well, finding the floor for 12 kills, while sophomore Margarita Perez-Maza (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) aided the offensive attack with 11 kills of her own. Sophomore Marimo Oka (Fukuoka, Japan) led the way defensively, coming up with a match-high 23 digs for the Cougars.

Smith College gained a 1-0 lead in the match after a 25-16 opening set score that saw Gill and Perez-Maza combine for eight kills with Kacey Legare (Chicopee, Mass.) and Paige Kacherian (Rowley, Mass.) provide additional support with a kill apiece.

Clark University was pushed to the brink in the second set but was able to stave off Smith College to even the match. The Cougars grabbed a 5-0 lead to get the frame started, but the Pioneers came right back with five straight points of their own to swing a 6-5 lead over to their side.

Neither team was able to separate by more than two points during much of the set until kills from Kacherian and MacKenzie Hanna (Lamoine, Maine) sparked a four-point rally to give the Cougars a 19-16 advantage. Clark University was able to bunch together points on two separate spurts before holding off a late rally from the host to snatch a 25-23 set win, with a kill from Perez-Maza securing it.

Clark University had its largest margin of victory during the third set to swing momentum in the match over to its side. The Cougars began with three quick points before a four-point streak provided the visitors with a 7-2 margin.

With a 15-11 lead, the Cougars went onto take the next eight of 11 points, with Perez-Maza delivering a kill and an ace to aid the run. That run propelled the team to the advantage in the match via 25-15 score, with Oka recording one of her match-high four service aces as the final point in the set.

Clark University asserted control early in the eventual set of the match, grabbing points in bunches throughout the open up a 19-5 lead, culminating with the Cougars' largest run of the day with eight unanswered points, seven of which coming during Oka's service.

The Pioneers didn't fold, however, as the host made things interesting, quickly erasing a 19-6 deficit with two rallies of four straight points helping to make it 24-19 on the scoreboard. The Cougars buckled down as Legare found the floor for her third kill of the match to seal the 25-19 set score and the sixth consecutive win for the team.