Springfield, Mass. - November 7, 2008 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team came one step closer to capturing the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown as it swept Coast Guard in three games in one semifinal on Friday evening in Blake Arena. The Pride will take on Wellesley, which downed MIT in three games in the other semifinal.
Springfield won the match by the scores of 25-16, 25-16, 25-12.
The Pride will take on the second-seeded Wellesley Blue, who downed MIT in three games in the second semifinal. Wellesley won by the game scores of 25-19, 25-22, 25-14. The championship match is set for 4:00 pm on Saturday in Blake Arena. Wellesley and Springfield met twice earlier this season, with the Pride winning both matches. The Pride won the first meeting in five games, and downed the Blue in four sets at the Volleyball Hall of Fame Classic.
With the win, the Pride won its 16th match in a row to improve to 30-4 on the year. The win also gives the Pride its sixth 30-win season under head coach Joel Dearing. Coast Guard's season comes to a close with a 15-16 mark.
The first game was back and forth right from the start as the teams were tied at nine after a Nicole Johnson kill for the Bears. However, Springfield then scored the next seven points as Kelsea Hellyar was relentless from the service line. Heather Lively notched a pair of kills in the run, while Bethany Stosz added a pair of blocks for the Pride. The Bears struggled to fight past the Pride block, as Springfield totaled five team blocks and held the Bears to a .000 hitting percentage.
Springfield opened a quick 4-0 lead to start the second game as Lively put two balls away in the opening four points. The Pride continued its pressure as its lead ballooned to seven after a Sarah Lang-Rodean kill made it 10-3, forcing a USCGA timeout. Coast Guard got to within six after a Mary Bitzer kill brought the score to 18-12. Lang-Rodean finished with five kills in the second stanza as the Pride won by a 25-16 count.
In the third stanza, Coast Guard led in the beginning of the game, keeping the Pride attack at bay. With the score 9-8 in favor of the home team after a Nicole Gurr kill, Springfield rattled off three straight points to force another Coast Guard timeout. With the momentum swinging back the Pride's way in the run, Springfield received a double block from Stosz and Lively, a kill from Lively, and a big kill from Lauren Torvi. The Pride's offense was too much to handle in the third game, hitting .400 as a team, as it knocked out 15 kills on 30 attempts with just three errors. Torvi was especially important for Dearing as she hit a perfect 1.000 on five swings. Lively finished the match as she buried a ball from the outside for the 25-12 win.
For the match, Nicole Gurr led Coast Guard with nine kills and two blocks, while Jessica Anderson added 12 digs. Ashley Bullard handed out 16 assists for the Bears in the loss.
Lively finished with a match-high 13 kills and added two blocks, while Lang-Rodean chipped in with nine kills, hitting .444. Torvi was outstanding as she racked up eight kills and three blocks, hitting .538 for the match. Stosz added four kills, seven digs, and seven blocks. On the defensive side, Aylene Ilkson and Heidi Yohe each recorded 13 digs, while Meaghan Hart registered two aces and six digs. Hellyar paced the Pride attack with 36 assists in the three games.
After the score was tied 9-9 in the first stanza, Springfield then outscored Coast Guard, 66-35, the rest of the way.
Wellesley 3, MIT 0
Wellesley/MIT Box Score
In the second match of the evening, the Wellesley Blue advanced to the NEWMAC Championship game after it swept the third-seeded MIT Engineers, 25-19, 25-22, 25-14.
The Blue will take on the Springfield College Pride in the championship game on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm in Springfield College's Blake Arena.
Jessica Duff led the way Wellesley with a match-high 16 kills in the game to go along with eight digs. Alice Cummings added 13 kills and seven digs for the Blue, while Victoria Peng dished out 37 assists as she directed the Wellesley attack. After struggling in the first game hitting .081, Wellesley regrouped and hit .222 in the second and a sparkling .500 in the third.
For the Engineers, Katrina Ellison finished with a team-best seven kills and 14 digs. Cathy Melnikow handed out 22 assists, while Barden Cleeland notched five kills in in the loss for MIT. MIT managed to just .093 in the contest.
Trailing 6-8 early in the opening stanza, Wellesley rattled off a 6-0 run to take a 12-8 lead after an MIT attack error. The Engineers battled back to bring it within three (22-19) after a Wellesley attack error, but a kill from Duff and Cummings and another MIT error gave the second-seeded Blue the first game.
MIT had the lead for the majority of the second game, holding a 21-17 lead after a solo stop from Cleeland. From that point on, Wellesley notched nine of the next 10 points to take the game 25-22. Cummings had a pair of kills, while Duff had a trio, including the game-winner, in the spurt for the Blue.
The Blue were clicking on all cylinders in the third game as MIT had no answer for the Wellesley attack. Fueled by Cummings eight kills in the third, hitting .727, the Blue cruised to a 25-14 game-three victory. Once again, a late spurt by Wellesley proved to be the difference. With the score tied at 13, Wellesley finished the match on a 12-1 run.