MEDFORD, Mass. – November 14, 2008 - The Springfield College women's volleyball season came to a close on Friday evening after it dropped a 3-0 decision to arguably the hottest team in New England, the Williams College Ephs, in the Regional Semifinals of the 2008 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University.
The Ephs, the #4 seed in the New England Regional, upset the #1 seed Pride by the game scores of 27-25, 25-15, 25-15. The Pride's 18-match win streak came to a close as it's season ends with a 32-5 record.
"You have to give credit to Williams and the job they did tonight,"said head coach Joel Dearing. "They were outstanding on defense and made plays the entire match. It certainly was a nice year for us, a year in which our seniors led us to the NCAA's."
The first set was the closest of the match as neither team built a lead larger than four points, but there were only two lead changes in the set. Williams held the advantage early, going ahead 10-6. Springfield came back to even the score up at 11 apiece, which was one of nine ties in the set, and then the Pride vaulted ahead to a four-point bulge at 16-12, capped off by a Bethany Stosz (Amherst, Mass.) kill. The Ephs battled back to tie the score at 20-20, and then Springfield looked as if it would take the set as they reeled off four points in a row for a 24-20 lead. Unfortunately for the Pride, they could not capitalize on five set points. After evening the set at 25 apiece, the Ephs tallied two straight for the first set victory, 27-25.
From there, the momentum clearly shifted to the Ephs. Springfield did manage to take the early lead in the second set, but not for long, as after a 4-4 tie Williams took the lead and never relinquished it. Williams used an eight-point run in the middle of the set to go up 21-12 and they held an 11-point advantage at 24-13. The Ephs eventually coasted to the 25-15 set victory and a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set saw more of the same as Springfield's only advantages were at 2-1 and 3-2. Williams seized control of the set and the match with a 10-2 run to assume a 20-8 lead. The Ephs did not let up and they earned the sweep, 3-0, with another 25-15 set victory.
Sophomore Kate Anderson (Berlin, MA) was the catalyst for the Ephs, with a match-high 17 kills. The digs leader for Williams was sophomore Emily Avis (Palo Alto, CA) with 12, while junior Andrea Scioscia (Gibsonia, PA) added 10 digs as well as one service ace. Sophomore Nicole Ballon-Landa (La Jolla, CA) recorded 11 kills for the Ephs to go along with two service aces.
Springfield was led by senior Aylene Ilkson (Baldwin, NY) who registered nine kills and 13 digs, which were both team-highs. Sophomore Heather Lively (Royalston, Mass.) also had nine kills, six of which came in the opening game. Senior Heidi Yohe (Deer Park, Wash.) chipped in with 12 digs, while Stosz finished with eight kills and four blocks.
For her efforts in the regional tournament, Lively was named to the All-Tournament team.
This marks the third straight time in NCAA Tournament play that Williams has eliminated Springfield from the regional competition. This was the first time all season that the Pride was swept in three games.
Into the NCAA “Sweet 16,” Williams College will battle for a spot in the “Elite Eight” of the 2008 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship when they take on Tufts or Wellesley in the New England Regional Finals. The match will begin at 7 pm on Saturday evening at Cousens Gymnasium.