Li Leads Blue Volleyball To Split with Hamilton, Bowdoin at Hall of Fame Invite

Michelle Li earned All-Tournament honors for the Blue (Miranda Yang).
Michelle Li earned All-Tournament honors for the Blue (Miranda Yang).

AMHERST, Mass. -- Senior setter Michelle Li (Scarsdale, N.Y.) earned All-Tournament honors as Wellesley College volleyball split a pair of matches on day two of the 2018 Hall of Fame Invitational at Amherst College's LeFrak Gymnasium. The Blue defeated Hamilton, 3-1 (25-16, 17-25, 25-22, 25-14), but fell to Bowdoin, 3-2 (25-22, 25-16, 21-25,15-11). Wellesley, ranked No. 7 in the region, is now 17-5 overall. 

Wellesley 3, Hamilton 1 (25-16, 17-25, 25-22, 25-14)  

Senior Yasmine Reece (New Rochelle, N.Y.) led the way with 15 kills as the Blue defeated Hamilton in their opening match on Saturday.

Sophomore Lauren Gedney (Huntersville, N.C.) chipped in with 10 kills and first year Nicole Doerges (San Marino, Calif.) added seven more to pace the Blue attack. Senior Samantha Hoang (Elk Grove, Calif.) tallied 13 digs and Li added seven digs to go along with a match-high 36 assists. 

Sophomores Dorothy Pucher (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Emma Parkhurst (Centennial, Colo.) combined for 22 kills to lead Hamilton, with Poucher tallying a team-high 12 and Parkhurst adding 10. Parkhurst also finished the match with 10 assists and three aces. Sophomore Nikki Matsuoka (Honolulu, Hawaii) picked-up a match-high 14 digs and senior Meghan Wilkinson (Raleigh, N.C.) added 13 digs in the setback.

The Blue put together a .533 attack percentage in a 25-16 rout to win the opening set. Wellesley made just one error in the set. Hamilton countered with a 25-17 win of their own to event the match, limiting the Blue attack in the second set while putting together their top offensive effort of the match at .304. 

Wellesley countered with back-to-back wins to take the match, holding on for a 25-22 win in the fourth set before earning a lopsided 25-14 win in the fourth to clinch the 3-1 final. 

Bowdoin 3, Wellesley 2 (25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 19-25, 15-11)

After dropping the first two sets in the match, Wellesley rallied for back-to-back wins in the third and fourth games only to fall just short, 15-11, in the deciding fifth set against Bowdoin.

Bowdoin, the No. 2 team in the NCAA regional rankings, got 18 kills from sophomore Ashley Williams (Lake Forest, Ill.) and 17 kills from junior Caroline Flaharty (Fort Myers, Fla.) to hang on for a big win in the match-up of two of the top teams in New England. Five different Bowdoin players finished in double-figures on defense, paced by senior Lisa Sheldon's (Venice, Calif.) match-high 27 digs. Sophomore Kate Kiser (Ingleside, Ill.) added 42 assists to lead the Polar Bear attack. 

Li dished out 40 assists to six different attackers, as Reece put down 20 kills to lead the Blue. Gedney added 14 kills, while sophomore Darina Postupaka (Tinley Park, Ill.) added seven. Hoang tied for match-high honors with 27 digs, as the Blue also got 14 digs from junior Meghan Shoop (Cypress, Calif.), and 12 digs from Li. 

Leading 23-17 late in the first set, the Polar Bears held off a late 5-1 run from the Blue and escaped with a 25-22 win. Bowdoin opened game two with a 12-5 lead, but eight straight Wellesley points erased the deficit and gave the Blue a 13-12 advantage. Unfortunately for the Blue, Bowdoin rallied for six consecutive points to retake the lead before going on to take a 25-16 final. 

Facing a 2-0 deficit to start the third set, Wellesley took a 13-7 lead midway through the frame. The Blue led throughout the early going but Bowdoin rallied back to tie the match and force a Wellesley timeout at 17-all. The teams went on to play to a 21-21 tie before Wellesley seized the late edge, as Shoop served an ace to end a 4-0 run that clinched a 25-21 final for the Blue. 

Trailing 7-6 to start game three, Bowdoin broke free from the Blue with a 6-0 run. The Polar Bears would lead by as many as nine points until Wellesley countered with a 12-1 run to take a 20-18 lead late. Bowdoin never recovered as the Blue would go on to take a 25-19 win and force a fifth set. Wellesley jumped to a 4-1 lead in the fifth game but couldn't hold on. Bowdoin would rally to take an 8-5 edge and hold the lead for the remainder of the match. 

The Blue return home to host Babson in the team's New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season finale on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.