Springfield, Mass. - November 14, 2010 - Led by the regional's Most Outstanding Player, Shannon Thompson, the second-seeded UMass Boston women's volleyball team battled to a 3-2 victory over fifth-seeded Springfield College on Sunday afternoon in the 2010 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Springfield, Mass. Regional Championship.
The Beacons bested the Pride by the game scores of 25-16, 18-25, 25-21, 25-27, 15-11.
With the win, UMass Boston (30-4) advances to the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship weekend hosted in St. Louis, Mo. by Washington University. The Pride's magical season comes to a close with a 31-5 record.
Thompson was the difference in the match as she pounded out a match-high 25 kills to go along with 18 digs. Fellow All-Tournament team selection Corrine Porter also had a standout performance with 13 kills, 12 digs, and seven service aces. The Beacons also received 10 kills apiece from Alexa Sullivan and Molly Rattigan. Libero Bethany Rossoll was credited with 17 digs in the win. Setters Cassy Hanneman and Frana Burtness-Adams combined for 50 assists.
"Needless to say, Shannon really played well tonight," said UMass Boston head coach Terry Condon. "Shannon was Shannon, and I'm not sure I could say it any better than that. But so did Corrine play well. We really blocked well as a team. Overall, it was just a great match. Both teams played well, and it really could have gone either way."
For the Pride, both Sarah Lang-Rodean and Tessa Smolinski were named to the All-Tournament Team after registering 13 kills on the night. Smolinski finished the night with a team-best 17 digs, while both Meaghan Hart and Itza Nieves posted 13 digs. Heather Lively posted 13 kills and Kelsea Hellyar handed out 44 assists. Lauren Torvi was also responsible for eight kills and four blocks.
"It was exactly what I expected. I expected a battle, and that's just what we got," described Springfield College head coach Joel Dearing. "The Springfield, Mass. regional has a very worthy champion in UMass-Boston. I really like their style. We're two teams that take the same approach. We are both very aggressive. It's a fun way to play, and a fun way to coach. I couldn't be more proud of this regional, this tournament, our seniors, and our entire staff. We got what we wanted in almost every way. We played as hard as we could for as long as we could. We wish UMass-Boston all the luck in the world out in St. Louis."
The rest of the All-Tournament Team included Lesley's Ashley McCracken, Amherst's Christy Meier, and Middlebury's Caitlin Barrett.
The Beacons jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set after an overpass kill by Sullivan forced Springfield’s first timeout. The Pride was able to respond with a run of its own, closing the gap to 11-10 on a Lang-Rodean kill in transition. UMass-Boston in turn called a timeout of their own to try to halt the Springfield momentum., however, SC kept coming after play resumed, gaining their first lead of the set, 14-13, on a Lang-Rodean service ace in the corner. With the set knotted at 16 all, Porter led the visitors on a 9-0 run as UMB took the opening set, 25-16. The first-year totaled five service aces in the opening set to set the tone early.
In the second set, the Pride started out hot, sprinting to a 5-1 early lead on a back row kill from Kim Giaquinto. The Beacons rallied to tie the score at 10 apiece before back-to-back Springfield kills made it 12-10 as Smolinski’s back-row kill and Lively on an overpass kill forced UMass-Boston to call for time. Springfield stretched the lead to 15-11 on an ace from Hart, and got to 19-13 on a kill from Hellyar. UMass Boston got within five at 23-18, but SC scored the final two points of the set, capped off by Giaquinto’s cross-court kill, evening the match at one game apiece.
The third set saw back and forth play throughout with eight ties and five lead changes. Trailing 8-6, UMass-Boston went on a three-point spurt and took a 9-8 lead after a Porter kill. Springfield battled back to regain the lead 14-12, but the Beacons used another three point run to go back up 15-14, taking the lead on a Porter ace. Hellyar notched a solo block to tie the set at 16 all, but UMass-Boston went up 18-16 after a Pride block error and an Amber Clemons kill. The Pride got to within 20-19 on a Lively kill, but a service error halted their momentum. The Pride managed two more points in the set, but it was not enough as a service error brought the Beacons within one set of victory.
In the pivotal fourth set, Springfield raced out to an 8-2 lead. The Pride took advantage of four Beacon attack errors coupled with two aces by Giaquinto. Springfield maintained a 12-6 lead after a Torvi solo block. UMass-Boston responded with four straight points, off three kills and an ace from Shannon Thompson, forcing a Springfield timeout. Another Thompson kill brought the Beacons within one at 16-15, but Springfield responded by rattling off three of the next four points, taking a 19-16 lead, and forcing a UMass-Boston timeout. Springfield appeared in control of the set at 23-20 after a Torvi kill, however, back to back Pride attack errors brought the score to 23-22 and led to Coach Dearing calling timeout. The Beacons would go on to tie the game before the teams would trade side outs to make it 25-25. Lively gave the Pride game point at 26-25, and Cassie Seymour sent the match into a fifth game with an ace into the deep right corner.
In the fifth and final set, UMass-Boston opened up a 6-3 lead after another Thompson kill, which forced Springfield to call timeout. Heading into the switch, Thompson produced another kill out of the middle, giving the Beacons an 8-4 advantage. The Pride then went on a 4-1 run, pulling to within one at 9-8, and forcing UMass-Boston to call a timeout of their own. UMass-Boston pushed the lead to 14-9, and after two Springfield points, Thompson’s kill won the match.