QUINCY, Mass. - Led by the Little East Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) UMass Boston cemented its spot at the top of the mountain as they defeated Keene State College by the final of 3-1 (25-16, 25-9, 22-25, 25-16) to earn their fourth-straight conference title Sunday afternoon at Quincy High School.
With the victory the Beacons earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament, which is scheduled to begin this Thursday.
The senior hitter led all players in Sunday's championship match with 16 kills and a .227 hitting percentage. Setter Emma Rocha (Boynton Beach, Fla.) tallied 21 assists. At the net the Beacons were dominant totaling 14 blocks with four solo and four assists going to Thompson. Thompson also led the match with 17 digs to record the only double-double, while Kayla Wilson (San Jose, Calif.) finished with 15, followed by Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) finished with 14.
For the Owls, Angela Silveri posted seven kills to lead her team in Sunday's championship match. Setter Alexis Michal finished with a match-high 25 assists, while Kaitlin Boyer was the team-leader in digs with 18.
In the opening frame the Beacons overcame an early Keene State run to jump out to a very slim lead. They would then ride that lead to their first win of the afternoon. The momentum from the opening frame would favor the Beacons in the second as they just dominated the Owls, holding them to single digits.
UMass would use to major rallies to earn the win in the second frame and gain the decisive 2-0 advantage. Playing a major part in the second set victory was freshman hitter Blair Boyer (Encinitas, Calif.) who served a majority of the Beacons points.
The third set proved to be a tough set for both squads as neither team hit very well. Keene State held the advantage barely with a .043 attack percentage, while UMass ended the frame with a.000 hitting percentage. The poor offense, allowed the Owls to notch their only victory of the day, which made the championship match alot more interesting.
In the deciding set the two teams exchanged points in the early on-going, but once UMass was able to gain control of the momentum it was their for the taking. With kills coming from a variety of players and key serves from Wilson and Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.) the Beacons were able to gain the lead they needed to earn their fourth straight conference crown.
With Sunday's win the Beacons will now wait to see who they will face in the NCAA regional tournament. For the past two seasons UMB has advanced to the championship round of the tournament, winning in it 2010 and falling to rival Springfield College in 2011.
The selection show for this year's tournament will begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow and can be viewed by going to http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2012-09-27/2012-fall-championships-selections.