Springfield, Mass. - October 12, 2010 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team used a balanced attack to topple rival Wellesley College, 3-1, in a matchup of the final two unbeaten teams in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) on Tuesday evening. Springfield won the match by the scores of 25-12, 10-25, 25-21, 25-16.
The Pride, winners of 11 straight, now stand at 23-2 on the season, but more importantly are 6-0 in league play and sit in the driver's seat to host the conference tournament. Wellesley drops to 11-5, 5-1.
Kelsea Hellyar led the Springfield offense with 38 assists to go along with a team-best eight digs as five different members of the team had at least nine kills. Kim Giaquinto had a very strong match for the hosts as she posted 10 kills at a .529 clip to go along with five digs, three aces, and a pair of blocks. Senior All-American Heather Lively also registered 10 kills for the Pride, while Tessa Smolinski chipped in with nine kills of her own. Middle hitters Sarah Lang-Rodean and Lauren Torvi each posted nine kills in the win, with Lang-Rodean racking up a match-high five blocks.
For the visiting Blue, Isabel Custodio powered home a match-high 11 kills to go along with her 18 assists, six digs and three blocks. Elizabeth Campbell recorded eight kills and 11 digs, while Taylor King also notched eight kills. Victoria Peng handed out 20 assists and Traci Hamanaka picked up a match-high 13 digs.
Entering the match, Springfield had lost just two matches all season, with one of those losses coming to Wellesley in the MIT Invitational earlier this season. Springfield jumped out of the gate, with Hellyar at the service line, as it opened up a quick 4-0 lead in the first set. A Hart service ace would later make it 10-3 as the Blue were forced to call an early timeout in the opening set. Hampered by eight attack errors, Wellesley struggled to find its rhythm, while Springfield was clicking on all cylinders, hitting .435 for the frame. Smolinski posted five kills in the set as Springfield cruised to a 25-12 win.
The second set was a completely different story as a new-look lineup for Wellesley came out swinging against the Pride. Springfield found themselves down 9-0 to start as Custodio hammered three kills for the visitors. The Blue continued the pressure as it opened up a 20-6 lead after a Springfield attack error, before three straight points by the hosts made it 20-9, the closest the set would get. Custodio notched her sixth kill of the game to even the match at one as the visitors won 25-10. For the set, Wellesley hit .565, while Springfield managed to hit just .036.
The Pride came out focused in the third and it snagged an early 10-4 lead after back-to-back Wellesley attack errors. The Pride maintained a healthy cushion until kills from King and Custodio made it 20-17, in favor of the hosts, as head coach Joel Dearing called a timeout. Wellesley got within two at 22-20 after a Campbell kill, but kills from Lang-Rodean and Torvi set up game point for the Pride. After a Custodio kill made it 24-21, Smolinski manufactured a back-row kill to give Springfield a 2-1 advantage.
After a back-and-forth start to the fourth set, Springfield poured on a 5-2 run after leading 11-8 to snag a 16-10 advantage following a Giaquinto kill. The Blue would get no closer than five the rest of the way as Lively pounded home the final kill of the match as Springfield picked up the critical league win.
Springfield will now have a week off before returning to action next Tuesday at WPI for a 7:00 pm match.