Nov. 6, 2010
BOSTON, MA - For the first time in 2010, four different players recorded 10 or more kills to propel the University of Massachusetts Boston volleyball team past Keene State College, 3-1 (25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 25-18), to capture the 2010 Little East Conference Championship Saturday afternoon at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass Boston. The Beacons, who received 10 votes in the most recent Division III American Volleyball Coaches Association national poll, repeat as conference champs for the first time in school history to improve to 27-4 overall and will advance to the NCAA tournament for second time in as many years. The Owls drop to 24-12 on the season and will wait to hear for an at-large bid from the NCAA tournament committee.
In a tight first set, the Beacons jumped ahead to an early 7-4 lead before Keene quickly cut it down to a one point margin on a kill by junior outside hitter Bridget O'Bryant (Merrimack, NH). UMass Boston would not regain a three point lead again in the set until sophomore setter Frana Burtness-Adams (Fairbanks, AK) delivered a service ace to put the Beacons on top, 17-14. The Owls kept the set close and climbed back to within one at 18-17 but the Beacons were able to close out the frame on a 7-4 run fueled behind two kills by sophomore middle hitter Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, CA) to capture the 25-21 first set win. Keene regrouped and raced out to an 11-3 lead in the second set behind eight consecutive points during the service of junior setter Laurie Whalen (Niantic, CT). The Beacons cut the lead to 13-7 and continued to make up ground with junior setter Cassy Hanneman's (Denver, CO) service. UMass rattled off seven straight points to take its first lead of the set at 14-13 and would not relinquish the lead again. The Owls were able to deadlock the frame at 19-19 on a kill by junior middle hitter Ellyse Davis (Londonderry, NH) but the Beacons rolled off three straight points capped by a Thompson's only kill in the set to regain a 23-19 advantage. After the squads traded points, sophomore middle hitter Alexa Sullivan (South Dennis, MA) slammed home her fourth kill of the set to lift the Beacons to the 25-21 victory and take a 2-0 stronghold on the match. The Owls controlled the majority of the action in the third set, trailing only once when UMass Boston took a 9-8 lead. Keene pushed its lead to 22-17, forcing the Beacons to call a timeout. The hosts had no answers during this set that saw the Owls collect 13 kills (five from Davis) and hit .343 from the floor. A kill by O'Bryant gave the visitors a 25-21 third set triumph and close the match to within a set at 2-1. To open the fourth set, Hanneman served up a pair of aces as UMass Boston snuck ahead 3-0 early in the frame. They would increase the lead to 7-2 before Keene would go on a 10-5 run to even the match at 12-12. Both teams traded points and were still all square at 14-14 before the Beacons reeled off six unanswered points behind Burtness-Adams' service to take a their biggest lead of the match in any set at 20-14. Coming out of a Keene State time out, a kill by freshman outside hitter Amber Clemons (Simi Valley, CA) made it 23-17, UMass Boston, to push the lead back to six points. Keene answered with a point to pull within five at 23-18 before Thompson slammed down a thunderous kill that brought fans in attendance to their feet for the Championship point. An Owl hitter error secured the 25-18 fourth set victory, landing the Beacons their second consecutive Little East Conference Championship while also extending their home winning streak to 29 matches.
Thompson was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after producing a 14 kill and 14 dig performance in the championship game. Her final kill in the win brought her to 421 kills on the season, a new single-season high for the sophomore who now has 841 kills in her career to rank fourth all-time. Freshman outside hitter Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, CA) slammed home 13 kills to go along with 13 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Sullivan and Clemons both notched career-highs with 12 kills each to round out the four UMass Boston players with double-digit kill totals. The two were extremely efficient from the floor as Sullivan registered a .500 hitting percentage while Clemons was even better, recording a gaudy .733 clip. Hanneman finished the championship with 31 assists to go along with 12 digs and three aces while Burtness-Adams chipped in with 24 assists and eight digs. With her 11 dig effort, sophomore libero Bethany Rossoll (Colorado Springs, CO) moved into second place all-time in career digs with 871.
For the Owls, Girard finished the match with a team-high 10 kills while also registering 15 digs. Davis and O'Bryant recorded nine kills apiece to pace the Keene offensive output while senior libero Jamie Levine (Medfield, MA) played stellar defense throughout the match, notching a match-high 25 digs. Whalen capped the match off with 27 assists while also collecting four digs and a match-high four aces.
The Beacons will learn their NCAA opponent on Monday, November 9 during the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball selection show to be broadcast on broadband via www.NCAA.com. The selection show is set to air at 11:00 a.m. from an in-house studio at the NCAA national office.