BOSTON, Mass. - Led by a dominating performance from freshman hitter Patsy Boland (Chicago, Ill.) volleyball cruised to their sixth straight Little East Conference tournament championship after handing the Colonials of Western Connecticut State University a 3-0 loss Saturday afternoon at the Clark Athletic Center in the first of two semi-final matches played at UMass Boston.
With the victory the top-seeded Beacons will face the second-seeded Owls of Keene State College tomorrow at noon in the Clark Gym. The winner of that match will earn the conference's automatic bid. The Beacons are in the hunt for their fifth straight conference tournament title, while the Owls are looking to earn their second conference title in program history, with the first coming in the Clark Gym in 2009.
The Beacons as a team used a balanced offense and strong defense to defeat the fourth seeded Colonials. When the ball was on their side of the net UMB posted a team hitting percentage of .327, while defensively they held WCSU to a mere -.030 hitting percentage and combined for four team blocks in the victory. The first game proved to be the closest of the three games played as the two teams exchanged control of the scoreboard twice, while also finding themselves tied five times.
However, the Beacons were able to take advantage of two huge plays late in the opening frame, which helped them earn a 25-17 victory. From there UMass wasted little time dispatching their conference opponent earning a 25-12 win in the second and 25-14 win in the third.
Boland's match changing performance saw the freshman score 13 kills on 26 attempts for a .423 hitting percentage. Behind her senior Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and junior Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) each threw down nine kills to help carry UMB. Morrison was consistent as usual as she finished with a .444 hitting percentage.
For Porter her nine kills complemented a 14 dig performance which was second most for the Beacons. Elizabeth Glavan (Edina, Minn.) overcame a shaky first game and went on to finish with 20 digs in first collegiate postseason appearance.
Anchoring the Beacons yet again was senior setter Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.). The 36 assists proved to be a huge factor in why UMass Boston was able to secure a spot in Sunday's conference final. The California native also finished with three kills one ace and six digs for another complete showing.
Freshman Julia Murphy also made her first collegiate postseason appearance count as she finished with seven kills (.263 hitting percentage) and four block assists. Boland recorded two block assists, while Pollock and Porter each finished with one.
For the Colonials, Karissa Smith recorded 10 kills in the loss, while setter Jennifer Hogan managed 11 assists. Rachel Volpe put-up nine digs to lead WCSU, while Nina Wojtkiewicz finished with eight. Heather Williams and Smith each managed a team-best three block assists in the loss.