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Wellesley Volleyball Survives Thriller with Keene State, 3-2

Mikayla Tansil '25 (Frank Poulin)
Mikayla Tansil '25 (Frank Poulin)

WELLESLEY, Mass. - Wellesley College volleyball saved multiple match points to overcome Keene State, 3-2 (25-22, 25-27, 28-26, 19-25, 20-18), to earn a non-conference victory on Wednesday night at the Dorothy Towne Fieldhouse.

Mikayla Tansil (Warren, Mich.) had a career-high 66 assists and Kate Salembier (Sierra Madre, Calif.) had a season-high 17 kills for the Blue (4-6) as they staved off a comeback attempt from the Owls (2-8). The Owls were led by captain Sydney Johnson (Brentwood, N.H.) with 23 kills, while libero Reagan Fleming (Pearl River, N.Y.) scooped up 26 digs for Keene State. 

The first set saw competitive back and forth throughout with Salembier and sophomore Jennifer Yu (Shanghai, China) pacing the offense for the Blue, and Johnson sprinkling in kills for the Owls throughout. It would be a late pair of kills by Yu and sophomore Rachel Xu (Beijing, China) that gave Wellesley the first set.

The second set saw more of the same with long rallies and strong defense keeping both teams within a couple points of each other. Senior captain TylerBell Smith (Frisco, Texas) began to let her offense take over, but the Owls pushed the score to 24-21 on a service ace from Katie Blanchet (Salem, N.H.). The Blue fended off four set points with a trio of kills and a service ace by Salembier. It would ultimately be the Owls who evened up the match with an attack error giving them a 27-25 second set.

Once again neither team could break away in the third, until a four point run gave Wellesley a 17-10 lead. The Owls would scrap back behind Blanchet and Johnson's offense to bring the set to 24-24, with four set points saved. Wellesley stood tough in the big moments of the third and backed by a Yu kill and a block by Xu and first year Kennedy Mayo (Long Branch, N.J.) the Blue snagged a 28-26 third.

The Owls would be the ones the get the early jump in the fourth, taking a 13-6 lead before Wellesley regrouped. Johnson was determined to keep Keene State in the match, totalling seven kills in a 25-19 set that never saw Wellesley leading. 

The Owls rode the momentum of the fourth into an 8-5 lead in the fifth when the teams switched ends. Kills by Smith and Yu would help bring Wellesley back, eventually tying Keene State at 12-12. Keene State capitalized on two errors to set up match points, but Xu and Yu showed graced under pressure with two straight kills. The teams would trade heart-racing points until 18-18, neither side able to shake off the other, trading kills and long rallies. It would finally be Xu who rose to the occasion with a pair of kills to capture the victory for the Blue. 

The Blue will have a quick turnaround with a Saturday morning game against UMass Dartmouth at 11 AM. The Owls will wrap up their two game road trip with a matchup at Western Connecticut on Saturday.