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Wesleyan Drops Five-Set Thriller to Bowdoin in NESCAC Semifinals

Photo Courtesy of Bre Cavanaugh '19
Photo Courtesy of Bre Cavanaugh '19

MEDFORD, Mass. – The second-seeded Wesleyan volleyball team lost a hard-fought five-set thriller to Bowdoin in the NESCAC Semifinals on Saturday. The No. 3-seeded Polar Bears rallied from a 2-1 deficit and won by scores of 25-17, 19-25, 26-28, 25-22, and 16-14.

Saturday's contest featured the past two NESCAC Champions, as the Cardinals won in 2017 and Bowdoin won a year ago. It was also a rematch of the 2017 NESCAC Semifinals matchup. With the loss, Wesleyan is now 20-4 overall and awaits its NCAA Tournament fate when the selection show airs Monday, November 11 at 12:30 p.m. on The Polar Bears advance to the conference finals and will play the host school, top-seeded Tufts, tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.


  • Tied at 9-9 in the first set, Bowdoin went on a 4-0 run and led the rest of the way. They used a 6-0 run shortly after to pull away, and closed out the set with four unanswered points.
  • Wesleyan answered by scoring four of the first five points in the second. Bowdoin trailed for most of the set but took a 15-14 lead later in the frame. However, the Cardinals rallied with an impressive 10-1 run to pull away.
  • The third set featured incredible back-and-forth action. Bowdoin jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Wesleyan got within two, down 12-10, but the Polar Bears scored five of the next six points to go ahead 17-11. The Cardinals trailed 20-14 before mounting their comeback as they went on a 7-1 run to even the score. The teams continuously exchanged points down the stretch until back-to-back kills from Bella Ahearn and Nicole Hilton, respectively, sealed the 28-26 win for Wesleyan.
  • The fourth featured more competitive back-and-forth play throughout the set. Bowdoin trailed 19-17 but outscored the Cardinals 8-3 down the stretch en route to the victory to force a decisive fifth set.
  • The Polar Bears scored the first two points of the fifth and never trailed. Wesleyan trailed 13-11 before going on a 2-0 run to even the score. After a kill by Ashley Williams, the Cardinals answered with a kill of their own from Harper Graves. However, Bowdoin put the match away with back-to-back points.


  • The Cardinals were led by Ahearn's 18 kills while Mia Hogan added 13 and Hilton totaled 11. Kaira Muraoka-Robertson dished out 51 assists, totaled 20 digs, and recorded four blocks. Phia Bellizzi registered 33 digs, Olivia Guidotti and Jenna Otaola each had 12, and Graves added 10. Hilton was also a force at net with nine blocks (two solo).
  • Sophia Pahl led all players with 21 kills. Joining her in double figures for Bowdoin was Caroline Flaharty with 16, Cori Gray with 11, and Williams with 10. Ella Haugen and Kate Kiser each totaled 26 assists and Emily King led the defense with 30 digs. Flaharty added 17 digs, Pahl recorded 12, and Haugen tallied 10. Gray led all players with 10 blocks (three solo).