Medford, Mass. - October 21, 2016 - In their first match of the New England Challege, the Springfield College women's volleyball team put together an outstanding team performance to sweep host Tufts University in Cousens Gym by the set scores of 25-21, 25-21, 25-21.
Springfield, which was ranked fifth in the region this week, is now 23-3 on the season and has won 16-straight matches. The Pride handed Tufts, which was ranked #1 in New England according to this week's NCAA Division III Regional Rankings, its first loss in straight sets this season as the Jumbos drop to 19-2.
Kayleigh Helgesen (Oceanside, Calif.) totaled a match-best 11 kills, while Hayley Kmetz (Ardsley, N.Y.) posted her first double-double of the season with 11 digs and 10 kills. Lauren Holt (Granby, Conn.) tallied eight kills and match-best five blocks, and Anagabrielle Sanchez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) registered 22 digs. Marnae Mawdsley (Bolton, Conn.) directed the Pride's offense with 32 assists in the victory.
After the Pride fell behind 11-8 midway early in the opening set, the visitors used their defense to mount a 6-2 burst to gain a 14-13 advantage after a a block from Holt and Mawdsley forced the Jumbos into a timeout. Springfield would push its lead to three on three different occassions, until Tufts closed within 20-19. From there, the Pride closed out the set on a 5-2 push, with Helgesen and Jamie Schneck (Livingston, N.J.) posting a monster block on the pin for the 25-21 win.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair as it featured 12 ties and seven lead changes throughout. Tufts raced out to a 3-0 start to kick off the second frame, but Springfield would later gain a 6-5 lead on a kill from Helgesen. The Jumbos lead grew to 12-10, before a backrow kill from Kmetz capped off a three-point burst as Tufts burned a timeout. A solo stuff from Holt put the Pride up, 16-14, but the Jumbos answered with three-straight of their own as Springfield called for a timeout of their own. With the score even at 20-all, the visitors put together a 5-1 surge, highlighted by a huge swing from Holt, to seal the 25-21 win. The Pride posted 15 kills in the set and limited Tufts to a .026 hitting percentage as Sanchez delivered 10 digs.
Holt converted in transition to put Springfield up 4-1 but Tufts started to find its rhythm and opened up a 13-10 advantage following its sixth ace of the evening. Out of a Pride timeout, the visitors rattled off five straight points as Holt tallied two kills and a solo block to force the Jumbos into a timeout. The Pride's lead grew to 20-16 on a kill from Mawdsley, but Tufts made one last push, answering with four-straight to knot the set at 20-all. Consecutive kills from Helgesen gave Springfield the breathing room it needed and Kmetz sealed the win, bouncing her fifth kill of the set down the line for the 25-21 win.
Springfield will have two more important matches on Saturday as it travels to MIT to wrap up the New England Challenge. Springfield will face Middlebury, who was ranked 6th in New England, at 10:30 before taking on Williams at 3:00 pm.