UMass Boston 3, Middlebury 1
The first semifinal match found #3-seeded Middlebury taking a one-set lead right off the bat. The Panthers captured that first set, 25-20.
But the #2-seeded Beacons found their way in the next two sets, winning 25-19, 25-19. In the final set, UMass-Boston had to battle, but wound up winning, 29-27
With the win, UMass-Boston is now 29-4. Middlebury ends its season at 25-6.
Sophomore middle hitter Shannon Thompson had a great match for UMass-Boston. She finished with a match-high 22 kills, committing nine errors, on 48 swings. She also had eight blocks and 16 digs.
"I thought Shannon had a phenomenal match," said UMass-Boston Head Coach Terry Condon. "It was hard imagining her playing much better.
"But it was a vey good team effort for us tonight," said Condon. "We received good contributions from others.
"As for tomorrow, no matter who we play, it is sure to be a real battle," said Condon.
Said Middlebury Head Coach Sarah Raunecker, "It was a great match. They proved to be a great team."
Sophomore outside hitter Julia Gibbs (Houston, Texas) finished with 15 kills for the Panthers. She also had nine digs and two blocks. Junior outside hitter Jane Handel (Evanston, Ill.) also had 14 kills and 17 digs. Sophomore Caitlin Barrett (Medfield, Mass.) had a match-high 25 digs.
UMass-Boston finished with 11.5 blocks to Middlebury's 5.0
Springfield 3, Amherst 0
In tonight's second semifinal, the host team, Springfield College, took down its second straight team from the NESCAC conference, this time defeating #1-seed Amherst, three sets to none. Set scores for #5-seeded Springfield were 25-13, 25-18, 25-20.
Last night, SC took down #4-seeded Tufts in the quarterfinals, also by a 3-0 score.
With the win, Springfield is now 31-4. Amherst finishes at 25-4.
The Pride tonight were led by NEWMAC Conference Player of the Year Sarah Lang-Rodean, a middle blocker from Mansfield Center, Connecticut. Lang-Rodean finished with 19 kills and had just three errors in 33 swings. She hit .485.
When asked if tonight's match began and ended with the play of Lang-Rodean, Springfield Head Coach Joel Dearing said, "It certainly began with Sarah. She had eight kills in game #1 all by herself. But we had some others who came alive after that, especially Heather Lively.
"Heather was such a force at the net," said Dearing, "both attacking and blocking. But at the end of the day, we had some very good efforts with an aggressive style of offense, and a gritty effort defensively."
Lively finished with nine kills and hit .250, while Meaghan Hart was sensational on defense for the Pride, racking up a match-high 20 digs. Tessa Smolinski (Hebron, Conn.) had seven kills, Lauren Torvi (North Smithfield, R.I.) six, and Kim Giaquinto (Massapequa, N.Y.) six. Giaquinto hit .357, Torvi .267.
For Amherst, junior Cristy Meier (San Anselmo, Calif.) led with 13 kills and hit .323. She was the only Lord Jeff to register double figures in kills. Sophomore Abigail Hunter (Kentfield, Calif.) was next with four kills. Sophomore setter Callie Neilson (Escondido, Calif.) and senior defensive specialist Rachel York (Los Angeles, Calif.) each had a team-high 12 digs.
Springfield will play UMass-Boston Sunday at 4 pm in Blake Arena for the Regional Championship and the right to travel to St. Louis for the nationals.