Springfield, Mass. - November 8, 2008 - For the first time since 2004, the Springfield College women's volleyball team can call themselves NEWMAC Champions. In a thrilling five-game victory, the Pride defeated the second-seeded Wellesley Blue to win the conference championship and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Tournament.
The Pride won by the game scores of 25-22, 25-18, 20-25, 24-26, 15-13.
In the opening game, the Pride found themselves down 20-16 after an Alice Cummings kill for Wellesley. Senior Aylene Ilkson put the Pride on her back as she powered Springfield to the next six points in the game as she pounded out two aces to give Springfield a 23-20 lead. After a Wellesley timeout, the Blue took advantage of a pair of Pride errors to bring it within one, forcing Joel Dearing to call a timeout for the Pride. Springfield responded with a pair of kills, one from Sarah Lang-Rodean and another from Heather Lively, as the Pride won the opening set, 25-22.
Springfield raced out to a quick 7-1 lead in the second game as Wellesley committed five attack errors in the opening seven points. As would be the case for the entire match, Wellesley battled back to take a 10-9 lead after a Pride error. Neither team was able to gain much of a lead until the Pride block snuffed out the Wellesley attack. Springfield posted three-straight double blocks as Bethany Stosz teammed with Kelsea Hellyar once and Lauren Torvi twice as the Pride grabbed an 18-14 lead. Ilkson once again made her presence felt as she picked up another ace on game point as the Pride earned a two-game advantage.
Wellesley came out firing in the third game, opening up a quick 6-1 lead after back-to-back kills from Samantha Du and Jessica Duff, forcing another Pride timeout. A Lang-Rodean kill capped off a 8-3 Springfield run as the game was knotted at nine. Wellesley however maintained its play it expanded its lead to as many as six, 24-18, after a Pride attack error, to eventually take the third game, 25-20. Wellesley hammered out 15 kills in the third game, including five from Du.
The Blue carried the momentum over to the fourth game as it opened a 7-0 lead, taking advantage of Springfield's errors. The Pride, which hit five errors on its first seven swings of the game, struggled to gain any rhythm as it found itself trailing by as many as seven on several occasions. With the score, 23-18 in favor of the Blue, Springfield's Aidan Tousey came off the bench to give the Pride life from the service line. With Tousey on the line, Springfield made it a 24-21 game, and eventually tied the game at 24 after back-to-back Blue attack errors. However, Wellesley got kills from Du and Duff to take the 26-24 game, forcing a fifth stanza.
In the fifth, the raucous crowd was treated to some impressive volleyball. After trailing 3-2, the Pride once again posted three straight blocks to grab a 5-3 lead. The Blue answered right back with a double block of their own from Du and Amanda Duritsch and a Heather Mellquist kill to make it a five-all game. Springfield responded with another Lively kill, a service ace from Jessica Baldwin, and a Torvi kill gave Springfield an 8-5 lead at the switch. The teams would then trade points as the game would be tied at 10 after a Pride attack error. Springfield went on to score three of the next four points to take at 13-11 lead,as Lang-Rodean hammered a pair of kills, forcing a Wellesley timeout. Out of the timeout, Wellesley score the next two points, as a kill from Du and another double block made it 13-all. Lively brought the Pride within match point as her roll shot found the court for a kill, and a Blue attack error then gave Springfield the championship victory.
Lang-Rodean led the Pride with a match-high 17 kills, while Lively added 16 kills. Ilkson was tremendous, notching 11 kills and 22 digs, while classmate Heidi Yohe tallied 24 digs as SC's libero. Hellyar handed out 44 assists to go along with nine digs and three blocks, and Stosz chipped in with five kills and seven blocks. Meaghan Hart continued her outstanding play with 14 digs.
For the Blue, Duff led the way with 17 kills and 12 digs, while Du and Cummings each pounded out 14 kills. Cummings added 22 digs, while Emily Peters chipped in with a team-best 26. Victoria Peng dished out 49 assists and added 14 digs in the loss. Mellquist also recorded double-digit kills with 10 in the match.