BOSTON, Mass. – Led by Eileen Shi (San Francisco, Calif.) the top-seeded Beacons earned a hard fought 3-1 win over the fourth-seeded Warriors of Eastern Connecticut State University to advance to the championship match of the 2016 Little East Conference Tournament Thursday evening in the Clark Athletic Center Gymnasium.
#1 UMass Boston 3, #4 Eastern Connecticut State University 1
UMass Boston (27-4)
Eastern Conn. State U. (19-12)
HOW IT HAPPENED
With the win the Beacons advance to the championship match of this year's tournament and will host the second-seeded Panthers of Plymouth State University on Saturday. Plymouth State defeated third-seeded Western Connecticut State University, 3-0 in Plymouth, NH this evening.
In perhaps their toughest conference match since their 3-2 win over Plymouth State, the Beacons had used every tool in their arsenal to hold-off an upset-minded ECSU squad. After an error filled first set, which saw the Beacons take a 25-15 win, the Warriors came storming back in the second. Despite a late push by UMB, ECSU managed to sneak by with the 25-23 win to tie the match at 1-1.
In the third set, the Beacons came out firing on all cylinders as they hit a match-high .583 to cruise to a 25-13 win. The fourth and final set, was a back-and-forth exchange from the start. Even at 17-all, the Beacons rattled-off four straight points to take a 21-17 lead. The Warriors cut that lead back to three with a kill by Kay Mullen. The Beacons would keep their distance on the next serve, with Shi scoring a thunderous kill to make it 22-18.
After another Warriors kill made it 22-19, the Beacons would take a 23-19 lead moments later, with another huge put down by Shi. The Warriors made it a three point affair two more times, but their chance at a rally fell just short with Shi and Melanie Fyda (Park Ridge, Ill.) scoring the final two points to seal the win for the Beacons.
Shi's impressive night consisted of 18 kills and a match-high .483 hitting percentage. She also anchored the Beacons defensive effort with her 17 digs and two block assists. Senior Julia Murphy (Canton, Mass.) was the Beacons other big gun as she threw down 14 kills, and was also solid at the net with her two solo blocks and four block assists.
Setters Christina Elliott (Camas, Wash.) and Pepper Baker (Tallahassee, Fla.) were able to overcome the early match nerves, to combine for 50 assists respectively. Elizabeth Glavan (Edina, Minn.) collected a match-high 20 digs in the win, and was solid on every service reception.
For the Warriors, their senior latent team gave everything they had in the tough loss. Adrianna Mihalek led the squad with a strong 13 kills and .211 hitting percentage. Leah Sopneski and Fabiana Della-Monica each recorded 14 assists, while Michelle Valliere led the team with 11 digs.
BY THE NUMBERS
- On the night UMass Boston hit .280 as a team, while the Warriors were held to just .081 hitting
- The Beacons semi-final win marks their second straight, and seventh sine the 2008 season
- Thursday's meeting marked the first postseason meeting between UMB and ECSU since the 2008 season, when the Beacons earned a 3-0 win in the semi-final round
- All-time UMass Boston is now 10-13 when facing the Warriors, and have won 10 of their last 11 meetings
The Beacons will host Plymouth State University on Saturday in the conference championship. Start time to be announced tomorrow.