St. Louis, Mo. - November 18, 2011 - Despite career-best performances from seniors Lauren Torvi and Itza Nieves, the Springfield College women's volleyball team dropped a five-set battle to Carthage College in the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship Quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.
The final set scores proved to by 24-26, 25-18, 25-21, 19-25, 15-6 in favor of Carthage.
Springfield's historic season comes to a close with a 34-3 record as it advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for just the third time in program history since turning Division III. Carthage, which improved to 33-7, will take on Christopher Newport on Saturday at 3:30 in the NCAA Championship Semifinals. The Captains advanced to the national semifinals on Friday afternoon after rallying to defeat SUNY Cortland in four sets.
In the first ever meeting between the Pride and the Lady Reds, Torvi carried the Pride's offense, matching a career-high 22 kills at an incredible .435 clip. Nieves anchored the Pride's defense as she stymied the Carthage attack while posting a career-high 33 digs. Tessa Smolinski came on strong towards the end and finished with 18 kills and 11 digs, while Meaghan Hart notched 16 digs in her final collegiate game.
Michelle Madeja led Carthage with 20 kills. Cindy Cavanagh had 19 kills with a .516 attack percentage and three block assists, while Lauren Dembkowski added 14 kills. Setter Drewann Pancratz averaged 9.6 assists per set.
Springfield raced out to a 7-3 lead in the first set, as Torvi hahd her way early. However, Carthage rallied and eventually broke a 16-16 tied with four unanswered points to take a 20-16 lead. Carthage was up by three, 23-20, before the Pride battled back with three straight to tied the set at 23-23. Following a tie at 24-all, Springfield took the final two points for a 26-24 decision after consecutive Lady Red attack errors.
The Pride roared out of the gate to start the second set as it led 10-2 and forced the Lady Reds into both of their timeouts in the opening 12 points. However, Carthage would regroup and score 23 of the sets final 31 points to even the match at a set apiece. Following a point by the Pride to make it 15-11, the Lady Reds fired back with a 7-0 run to take a three-point lead, 18-15. Leading by two, 20-18, Carthage took the final five points to win by seven, 25-18.
Carthage took a 5-1 lead in set three, which eventually ballooned to five points, 14-9. The Pride pulled to within three at 21-18 after on big kill by Torvi, only to have Carthage run off three-straight points to go up by six, 24-18. After a tough two opening sets, Smolinski finally started to heat up and led Springfield to get back within three-points again, 24-21. The Lady Reds used another kill from Madeja to take a 2-1 lead.
Springfield put forth a dominating fourth-set performance as it racked up 18 kills and a sensational .514 clip after totaling a combined 31 kills in the first three sets. After inching out to an 11-6 lead in set four, the Lady Reds got it back to a point on three occasions, before Springfield opened up a four-point lead, 19-15. The Pride extended their margin to seven, 23-16 after a monster block by Smolinski and Mary Consol, before it forced a fifth set after another Smolinski kill.
A couple of Springfield miscues helped Carthage open up a 5-1 lead in the fifth set. After the Pride pulled to within two, 5-3, following a Consol ace, the Lady Reds took charge with a 10-3 spurt to close out the set with a 15-6 win. The Pride were limited to just two kills in the fifth, while Carthage posted 11 kills at a .435 clip.