Springfield, Mass. - October 9, 2009 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team split its two matches in the opening night of the 2009 Tom Hay Invitational. The Pride opened with a three-game sweep of Westfield State before dropping a thrilling five-game match to Plymouth State.
Springfield now stands at 19-3 on the year and is off to its best start since 2003 when the Pride started the year 34-2. The Pride is currently ranked fourth in New England and is receiving votes in this week's AVCA national rankings. Westfield State dropped to 12-9 with the loss while Plymouth State improved to 20-1 on the year.
Springfield 3, Westfield State 0
Sarah Lang-Rodean powered the Springfield attack as she totaled a match-high 11 kills in the victory. All-American Heather Lively added eight kills, while Cassie Seymour added five kills, five aces, and four digs. Kelsea Hellyar finished with 30 assists and Kim Giaquinto posted five kills and four blocks. Meaghan Hart racked up a match-high 17 digs and Jenna Lebowitz provided a spark off the bench with eight digs and a pair of aces in the three-game victory.
For the Owls, Stephanie Bartkus posted a team-best seven kills, while Katie Kurty led the defensive effort with 14 digs. Westfield State was limited to just a .066 hitting percentage in the contest.
The opening game saw the Owls jump in front the host Pride as they opened up a 16-14 advantage after a Bartkus kill. However, Seymour took over for the Pride as she registered a pair of aces to spark a 4-0 run. With a four-point lead at 20-16, Springfield would hold on for the 25-22 victory as back-to-back Owl errors gave SC game one.
In the second stanza, after a back-and-forth start, a Seymour ace capped off an early Springfield spurt which gave the Pride an 11-5 lead. The visitors got within four at 16-12, but the Pride used strong serving from Lebowitz to gain control of the game as it went on a 6-0 run to own a 22-12 advantage. Lang-Rodean ended the frame with an ace as the Pride took the two-game advantage.
Giaquinto paced Springfield with four kills in the third game and Hart posted nine of her 17 digs as the Pride cruised to a 25-15 victory to complete the three-game sweep. At 8-6, the Pride used a 6-1 run to break open as the game as Lang-Rodean tallied a pair of aces.
Plymouth State 3, Springfield 2
In a back-and-forth match that featured incredible comebacks and outstanding play from both sides, Plymouth State snapped the Pride's 10-match winning streak by rallying for the five-game victory.
Lang-Rodean once again paced the Pride attack with 22 kills, hitting .383, to go along with five blocks and four aces. Lively added 16 kills and 13 digs and Lauren Torvi chipped in with 14 kills. Hart was tremendous on defense as she registered 34 digs and Lebowitz added 10 digs. Hellyar handed out 53 assists and recorded six aces in the loss.
For the visiting Panthers, Eliza Badeau was unstoppable as she pounded out 22 kills, hitting an even .500 for the match. Meghan Sullivan added 15 kills as the only other member of the squad to record double-digit kills. Both Sullivan and Alex Avery finished with 21 digs. Brianna Kleckner directed PSU's offense with 47 assists to go along with 18 digs and three blocks.
With the score knotted at eight all in the first stanza, Torvi took over as she pounded out four kills to lead the way as Springfield opened up a 14-10 lead. The Pride continued to pour on the pressure as it went on to the 25-16 victory, capped off by a Hellyar ace.
Springfield needed a sensational comeback to take the second game as it found itself in a big hole quickly. After a Badeau kill gave the Panthers a 18-11 lead, the Pride strung together a 14-2 run to close out the stanza en route to the 25-20 win. With Lebowitz serving the final 10 points of the game, Lang-Rodean dominated the net as she posted two kills and a pair of solo blocks in the 10-0 spurt.
The tables were turned on the hosts in the third game as Plymouth State answered with an incredible comeback of their own. Trailing 19-11 after Bethany Stosz and Giaquinto's second-straight double block, the Panthers took advantage of Springfield errors and an offense that had found its rhythm to take the third game. Hitting .303 as a team in the frame, Badeau led the way with five kills in the game.
The Panthers carried over the momentum into the fourth game as it won 25-15. PSU hit .355 in the frame and limited Springfield to a .119 attack percentage as it evened the match at two games apiece. Carly Newton notched a pair of blocks in the game to pace the defensive effort for the visitors.
Springfield came out into the fifth game poised as it raced out to a 5-1 lead as Lang-Rodean tallied three quick kills. A big kill from Lively gave Springfield an 8-4 lead at the switch and Hellyar tacked on another ace to give SC a 9-4 lead. However, Plymouth State mounted a furious comeback, tying the game at 11-all after a Newton kill, which forced a Springfield timeout. Out of the timeout, SC used a pair of Lang-Rodean kills to own a two-point advantage at 13-11. The Panthers chipped away as a Sullivan kill and Kathy Frankowski ace tied the game up. Lang-Rodean once again came up huge for the Pride as her 22nd kill of the night gave Springfield match point, but it was unable to convert. An unlikely point gave PSU match point as Avery made a terrific dig on Lively that sailed over the net and found the court. Kleckner and Newton then closed the door on the match as they combined for a double block to give PSU the five-game win.
The Pride will take on local-rival Western New England on Saturday morning at 10:00 am before taking on Endicott at 2:00 pm in the tournament finale.
2009 Tom Hay Invitational
Springfield 3, Westfield State 0 -- 25-22, 25-15, 25-15
Plymouth State 3, WNEC 2 -- 20-25, 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11
Plymouth State 3, Springfield 2 -- 16-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-15, 16-14
WNEC 3, Westfield State 2 -- 25-20, 25-17, 24-26, 13-25, 17-15