BOSTON, Mass. – After falling into an early 2-0 hole, the Warriors of Eastern Connecticut State University put together valiant comeback bid, as they forced a decisive fourth set, but volleyball managed to rally late in the frame to hand the Warriors a 3-1 loss Saturday afternoon in the Clark Athletic Center Gymnasium.
UMass Boston 3, Eastern Connecticut State University 1
UMass Boston (11-1, 2-0 Little East Conference)
Eastern Connecticut State (9-5, 0-2 Little East Conference)
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Beacons, fresh off of a pair of huge in-region wins on Tuesday and Thursday carried that momentum into the first two frames of Saturday's conference match. The Beacons powered past the upset minded Warriors in the first set with a 25-17 win. In the second set it was all UMass Boston from start to finish as they posted a 25-10 win.
However in the third set the Beacons hit a wall, which gave the Warriors the chance they needed to get back in the match. Led by the strong play of Adrianna Mihalek, ECSU made it 2-1 in favor of the host Beacons as they earned a 25-22 victory.
In the fourth frame, Eastern tried to extend their lead over but were unable to separate themselves from UMass. Needing just three points to force the fifth and final set, the Warriors were unable to complete their comeback, thanks to the strong play of Eileen Shi (San Francisco, Calif.), who made two key plays to help the Beacons to a 25-22 decision, and the match.
Shi's first key play came with the Beacons leading 23-22 in the fourth. With a loose ball looking as if though it was going to fall right in front of the scorer's table, the sophomore made a diving play that kept the ball alive. Seconds later, Shi found herself on the receiving in of a vicious kill attempt by the Warriors, but once again she was able to keep the ball. That huge save allowed the Beacons to move into match point as they scored the kill on the hand of Colleen Koen (Centerville, Mass.).
Now leading 24-22, the Warriors had one last chance to keep the match alive, as they threw down another hard kill attempt. Luckily for the Beacons, Shi was there again as she was sent falling backwards, but still managed to keep the ball alive. That pass would find setter Rachel Maslach (Berlin Center, Ohio), who then dropped a perfectly placed set to Koen, as the big senior closed out the Beacons victory with a thunderous kill.
Shi completed her day with eight kills, seven aces, and 11 digs. Koen was the team leader in the kills category as the Centerville native finished with 12 putdowns and hit team-high .360. For the Warriors it was Mihalek carried her team with 13 kills on 39 attempts. She also had 10 digs to finish with the team's lone double-double. Setters Leah Sopneski and Fabiana Della-Monica combined for 23 assists respectively.
For the first time this season, the Beacons featured all three of their setters in Maslach, Pepper Baker (Tallahassee, Fla.), and Christina Elliott (Camas, Wash.). Baker led the match with 13 helpers, while Elliott and Maslach tallied 12 and 10 assists.
BY THE NUMBERS
- With the win, UMass Boston has now won nine of the last 10 meetings with the Warriors
- The Beacons hit a combined .273 in the victory, while the Warriors managed to hit just .070
- UMass Boston is now 8-0 against in-region opponents
- Shi's seven service aces was a career-high for the sophomore
- The Beacons 3-1 win over the Warriors marked just the second four-set win for UMass over ECSU in 22 meetings
The Beacons will travel to Plymouth State University on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. conference match.