SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Fueled by freshman Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) and senior Molly Rattigan (Dorchester, Mass.), volleyball (27-4) advanced to the semi-final round of the 2011 NCAA Division III East Regional tournament with a hard-fought 3-0 win of NYU-Polytechnic Friday afternoon at Springfield College's James Naismith Court.
Friday's win improves the Beacons NCAA regional record to 5-1 overall, and marks the third straight quarterfinal victory. For the Fighting Blue Jays of NYU-Polytechnic, Friday's match also marked the third appearance in Springfield.
Despite the win, the overall showing by the Beacons was not one of the top outings of the season. In two of the three sets played, UMass trailed by as much as eight points, forcing them to have to rally late. In the third set, NYU-Poly was just two points away from taking the set win, but with back-to-back kills including the deciding one by Brooke Nemethy (Oviedo, Fl.), UMass was able to sneak into the semi's.
On the afternoon, Morrison was dominant as she hit a .692 on 9-of-13 hitting with no errors marked against her. Rattigan was just as strong for the Beacons. Currently ranked fourth in the country in hitting percentage, the senior from Dorchester ended the three set match with a .350 hitting percentage as she was 9-for-20 with only two errors. As a team, the Beacons scored 40 kills on 98 attempts, for a .316 hitting percentage.
Setter Cassy Hanneman (Denver, Co.) combined for 37 assists, while also coming up with eight digs to help out the defensive effort. Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) combined for a match-high 14 digs, while Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) recorded the matches only double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
The Fighting Blue Jays were led by Victoria Kalvert's 12 kills on 30 attempts. Setter Corey Loupee posted 28 assists, and Nicole Breitbart managed 14 digs.
After a slow start to the first set, UMass tacked on eight straight points to take 20-14 lead. Down but not out, NYU-Poly manage to close the gap, to make it a just a four-point game (23-19). However, the Beacons held off that late rally with back-to-back points to earn a 25-19 victory. The second set was all UMass from start to finish as they powered their way to a 25-13 decision. In the third, the Beacons struggled to find any type of momentum, which allowed the Fighting Blue Jays to take an early lead.
The Beacons would start closing the gap as the match continued. Two attack errors by NYU-Poly would give UMass a 20-19 lead, their first of the set. From there the two teams would exchange points, before UMass was able to get kills from Morrison and Nemethy to seal the victory, 25-23.
Volleyball will now face the winner of Bowdoin College/Baruch University match tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in the semi-final round.