Springfield, Mass. - November 13, 2011 - The top-seeded Springfield College women's volleyball defeated second-seeded UMass Boston in four sets to claim the 2011 NCAA Division III Regional Championship on Sunday afternoon. After winning by the scores of 25-17, 28-26, 21-25, 25-22, Springfield advances to the Elite Eight in St. Louis next weekend.
Sophomore Tessa Smolinski was dominant once again tonight as she posted 18 kills at a .432 clip en route to being named the regional's Most Outstanding Player. Teammate Lauren Torvi also earned All-Tournament Team honors after tallying 14 kills and five blocks. Freshman Melissa McLaughlin had the best match of her young career with 10 kills on a .348 hitting percentage. Itza Nieves put forth another incredible defensive effort with a match-high 27 digs, while Mary Consol tallied a match-high six blocks.
For the Beacons, All-Tournament honoree Shannon Thompson led the way with 18 kills and 14 digs, while Molly Rattigan added 11 kills. All-Tournament selection Cassy Hanneman posted a match-best 49 assists and 18 digs, and Brooke Nemethy recorded 10 kills and 14 digs.
The Pride couldn’t have asked for a better start to the match as it hit .471 in the opening frame. With the score 8-7 in favor of Springfield early on, a Torvi kill ignited a 5-0 run that put the Pride up 13-7. Springfield pushed the lead to 23-13 off of Smolinski’s service ace before the Beacons used a quick burst to get back into the set at 23-17. Two UMass-Boston attack errors ended the rally and gave Springfield the first set, 25-17.
In the second set, the Beacons jumped out to a 10-7 lead following a Springfield service error. The Pride battled back midway through the set and used a Smolinski kill to cap off a 4-0 run that turned an 18-16 deficit into a 20-18 lead. Giaquinto connected on a kill to give the Pride set point at 24-21, only to have UMass Boston storm back and take a 25-24 lead after Kayla Wilson’s serve painted the back line. The Pride fought off two match points behind the play of Torvi as she sandwiched a pair of kills around a huge solo block as the hosts took set two 27-25 .
The third set featured 13 ties, the last of which came at 20-20. A kill from Thompson and a Springfield attack error provided the Beacons with the two point cushion it would need to force a fourth set. Smolinski brought the Pride within one on her 15th kill of the match, but a service error coupled with a double block from Rattigan and Thompson and a Thompson kill closed out the set for UMass-Boston, 25-21. Both teams hit well in the frame, with UMass-Boston’s holding a slight edge, .368 to Springfield’s .345 .
Krystie Luczynski - Roger Williams
Melissa Haskell - Bowdoin College
Kelly Brennan - Tufts University
Shannon Thompson - UMass Boston
Cassy Hanneman - UMass Boston
Lauren Torvi - Springfield College
Tessa Smolinski - Springfield College (MVP)