Women's Volleyball Advances Past WPI In NEWMAC Championship Quarterfinals

Springfield, Mass. - November 1, 2016 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team earned a four-set victory over WPI in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship Quarterfinals on Tuesday evening in Blake Arena.

Squaring off in the conference quarterfinals for the second-straight season, the Pride won by the set scores of 25-12, 23-25, 25-15 25-19 and will face third-seeded Clark on Saturday at 3:30 pm in the NEWMAC Championship Semifinals.  The Pride, which squared off with Clark last year in the conference semifinals, is ranked third in New England in the last NCAA Division III Regional Rankings and improved to 27-4 win tonight's win.  The Engineers bowed out with a 22-9 mark. 

Jennifer Hurwitz (Longmeadow, Mass.) tied her career-high with 14 kills to pace the Springfield offense and added 10 digs, two blocks, and two aces.  Lauren Holt (Granby, Conn.) posted 12 kills on a .476 hitting percentage to go along with a match-best seven blocks, and Kayleigh Helgesen (Oceanside, Calif.) chipped in 12 kills o fher own.  Marnae Mawdsley (Bolton, Conn.) led Springfield to a .322 hitting percentage with 45 assists and Anagabrielle Sanchez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) delivered a match-high 16 digs. 

For WPI, Casey Hunt (Granby, Conn.) led the way with 13 kills and 12 digs, while Maddy Werth (Bedford, Mass.) added nine kills and Sandra Duarte (Valencia, Calif.) posted six blocks.  Cassandra Tomerlin (La Quinta, Calif.) was credited with a team-best 15 digs and Shay Feeley (Franklin, Mass.) and Azita Bakhtyari (Andover, Mass.) combined for 38 assists in aiding the Engineers to a .122 hitting percentage.

WPI opened the match with a 4-1 lead, but six-straight points by Springfield, capped off by a Hurtwiz kill off the block, put the hosts ahead by a score of 7-4.  The Pride's lead grew to 13-7 when Helgesen ripped a ball cross court to force WPI into a timeout, and an ace from Hannah Lozano (Stockton, Calif.) pushed the hosts advantage to 18-9.  WPI would get no closer than six and the Pride took the opening set, 25-12, as it hit .391 behind a trio of kills from Hurwitz, Jennifer Donnelly (Exeter, R.I.), and Holt.

The Engineers started off the second set strong with a 5-2 lead when Hunt converted in transition and the Pride would call for its first timeout of the evening after a kill by Samantha Bircsak (Acton, Mass.) made it 12-8 in favor of WPI.  The Engineers lead would balloon to 17-11 following Springfield's sixth attack error of the set, but the Pride would battle back to 24-23 and force WPI into a timeout following a big swing by Jamie Schneck (Livingston, N.J.) down the line.  However, Hunt sided out with her seventh kill of the set to give the Engineers the 25-23 win. 

Springfield responded with an early 5-2 lead in the third following a Hurwitz kill, only to have the visitors storm back and knot the set at six-all.  A kill from Schneck kickstarted a 6-0 push for Springfield to push its lead to 14-8 and the hosts costed from there for a 25-15 win.  Helgesen had four kills in the frame for the Pride, which held WPI to a .026 hitting percentage.

Springfield jumped out to a 5-1 advantage to begin the fourth, but WPI would battle back to 8-7 on a big swing from Brooke Klepper (Miami Beach, Fla.).  The Pride used a 5-1 to gain a 13-8 cushion and the Engineers burned their final timeout of the evening at 19-13 when Hurwitz and Holt elevated for a huge stuff on the pin.   Helgesen pushed a kill down the line for match point and Donnelly would later notch her ninth kill of the night to wrap up the four-set win.