MEDFORD, Mass. – On the first day of the 2012 Beacons Invitational, volleyball faced two extremely tough tests in the Gulls of Endicott College and the fourth ranked Captains of Christopher Newport University Saturday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University. The Beacons would walk away with a 3-2 win over the Gulls, but fell to the Captains who just one year ago advanced the NCAA Championship match.
In the opener the Beacons had to work extremely hard to hold off a very hungry Endicott team. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead following 25-21 and 25-16 victories, the Gulls clawed their way back into the match by take the next two sets by the finals of 28-26 and 25-22. In the fifth and deciding set, UMB managed to hang on with the help of an early rally to take the 15-8 victory and extend their recent win-streak to four straight matches.
Combined for players finished with 10 or more kills for UMB in the opening match. Senior Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) led the team and the match with her 23 kills. Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) were tied with 12 kills each, while Amber Clemons (Simi Valley, Calif.) finished with a total of 20 kills and a match-high .409 attack percentage.
Setters Emma Rocha (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and Megan Pollock (Wilson, Calif.) combined for 74 assists respectively and played a major part in the Beacons early run in the fifth set. Defensively Kayla Wilson (San Jose, Calif.) was solid all match as she combined for 27 digs. Porter was right behind her with 22 digs to finish with a double-double. At the net UMB combined for 10.5 blocks, with Molly Witzmann (Encinitas, Calif.), Briana Sousa (Swansea, Mass.) and Morrison each finishing with four block assists. Morrison also had the only two solo blocks for the Beacons as well.
In the nightcap the Beacons were hoping feed off the energy that the rowdy UMass Boston crowd brought to Cousens Gymnasium. The first set was perhaps some of the best volleyball the Beacons have played since their 3-2 regional win over Wellesley College on September 28. UMB came out firing and matched everything that the reigning national runner-ups threw at them. The Captains did manage to pullout the narrow victory as they earned a 25-22 decision. That momentum would be all the fuel that the Captains would need for the next two sets as they handed the host Beacons a 25-19 loss in the second and a 25-14 loss in the third.
Thompson was once again the Beacons go-to hitter as she finished with a match-high 15 kills. Rocha and Pollock totaled 27 assists respectively. Porter totaled 15 digs, while Wilson combined for 10. Witzmann was the lone Beacon to record more than one block assist as the freshman finished with two.
Volleyball will close out the Beacons Invitational tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. when they take on No. 23 Southwestern University (TX).