Springfield, Mass. - November 2, 2013 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team clinched the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament after besting Wellesley College in five sets Saturday afternoon in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). Set scores were 25-14, 25-11, 22-25, 24-26, 15-11.
This afternoon's match pitted a pair of the top teams in New England against one another, as the Pride entered the match ranked second in the region, while the Blue were fourth in this week's NCAA Regional rankings. The win boosts the Pride's record to 23-5, 9-1 in league play, while the Blue drop to 26-5, 9-1.
Kelsey McGayhey (Shelter Island, N.Y.) continued to shine on the right side, producing a career-high 17 kills, at a .400 clip, to go along with five blocks. Tessa Smolinski (Hebron, Conn.) added 12 kills and 11 digs and reached a milestone on her first kill of the afternoon, becoming just the fourth player in program history to reach the 1,500 kill mark.
Defensively, Lauren Holt (Granby, Conn.) registered a career-best 12 blocks and was instrumental in holding Wellesley to its lowest hitting percentage of the year, .036. Fellow middle Amanda Palladino (Cheshire, Conn.) tallied eight kills while hitting .467 and Amy Entel (Berkley, Mass.) recorded a team-high 14 digs.
Springfield, which entered with the nation's second-best hitting percentage, finished the day with a .319 percentage. Whitney Miller (Cuba, N.Y.) and Molly Giannattasio (East Lyme, Conn.) combined for 48 assists.
For the Blue, Sydney Carfagno (Los Angeles, Calif.) totaled 13 kills and 11 digs, and Caitlin Laughlin (St. Louis Park, Minn.) posted 12 kills and four blocks. Traci Hamanaka (Burbank, Calif.) picked up a team-best 12 digs and Kira Jordan (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) recorded six blocks.
Smolinski reached her milestone following one of her all too familiar cut shots, which gave the hosts a 12-5 advantage in the first. Wellesley responded to get within 13-9 on a back row kill by Carfagno, only to have Springfield use a 7-1 push, highlighted by consecutive blocks from Palladino and McGayhey, to gain a 20-10 lead. The Blue were hampered by 11 hitting errors in the first set as the Pride cruised to a 25-14 win.
The Pride's offense continued to roll in the second set as it hit .438. Bolstered by the strong serving of Entel and the outstanding play of McGayhey, Springfield raced out to a 10-2 lead and never looked back to claim the second stanza, 25-11.
The third set featured seven ties and three lead changes as the Wellesley offense combined for 13 kills in the game. After Springfield found itself down 13-10 following a Brooke Fieldman (Greenwood Village, Colol) kill, the Pride stormed back with a 5-1 spurt, that was capped off by an overpass kill by Daniella Crismani (San Francisco, Calif.). Wellesley answered back with a 5-2 burst of their own, using two big swings from Carfagno to regain a lead they would not relinquish en route to a 25-22 win.
Springfield appeared poised to run away with the fourth set after recording six kills on their first seven swings to snag an early 8-1 lead. However, Wellesley scored 17 of the set's next 25 points to gain an 18-16 cushion. The Pride would not go away easily and gained match point after a big swing from McGayhey, only to have the hosts seventh service error of the set even things at 25-all. The Blue went to Carfagno, who registered back-to-back kills to force a fifth set.
In the fifth, Laughlin converted out of the middle to tie the set for the seventh time at 8-all. Smolinski sided out and a Wellesley attack error gave Springfield a two-point cushion, which it would carry into a Wellesley timeout at 12-10 following McGayhey's 17th kill of the day. Carfagno delivered a kill out of the break, only to have a Wellesley service error make it a 13-11 game. Smolinski recorded a gritty kill for set point, and then combined with Holt for a block to clinch the victory.