Nov. 7, 2008
KEENE, NH -Junior outside hitter Kate McWhorter (Bakersfield, CA) smashed 16 kills and hit a torrid .538 to lead the second-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston women's volleyball team over number three seed Eastern Connecticut State University, 25-19, 25-14, 25-15, tonight in the semifinals of the Little East Conference championship tournament at Spaulding Gymnasium in Keene, NH. The victory improves the Beacons' record to 25-8 and sends them to the LEC Championship game for the first time in school history to face host number one seed Keene State College, which defeated Western Connecticut State University, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, earlier in the evening. Eastern Connecticut falls to 20-12 on the year.
The stage is now set for Saturday's LEC final at 1:00 p.m. between Keene State and UMass Boston on the campus of Keene State College. In the only regular season meeting between the two programs, the Owls were able to capture a 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 22-25, 25-17) victory over the Beacons on September 27, 2008 at the Clark Athletic Center in Boston. Since that match, UMB has gone 16-1, winning a total of 50 sets out of a possible 55.
The Beacons jumped ahead early in the first set verse the Warriors and never looked back, cruising to the straight set victory. McWhorter was also able to contribute at the net with five block assists and a solo block for a career-high six total blocks in addition to eight digs and an ace to her effort and will head into the final leading the LEC in kills averaging 4.49 per set. Classmate Kate White (Plymouth, MA) spiked for nine kills and owned a .389 hitting percentage, while freshman setter Cassy Hanneman (Denver, CO) set the tone, dishing out 28 assists to go with two kills and a pair of aces. During the second set, Hanneman collected her 1000th career assist, becoming the first UMass Boston setter to reach the milestone in a single season and now has 1,017 for the year.
Defensively, the Beacons were paced by junior libero Megan MacAuley (Upland, CA), who registered 18 digs on the night, and freshman middle Molly Rattigan (Dorchester, MA), who owned the block all game, frustrating Eastern hitters with a dominating net presence. Rattigan finished the match with seven block assists and a solo block, for a career high eight combined blocks in the three sets. Her total of 55 block assists on the season gives the first-year player a new single season program record, eclipsing the old mark of 54, set by Trisha Alloway in 1999.
Senior hitter Sandra Jacques and freshman Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton, CT) had seven and six kills respectively to lead the Warriors. Senior setter Jen Braswell (Wilton, CT) added 11 digs.