Medford, Mass. - November 12, 2016 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team prevailed in a four-set battle with rival MIT in the NCAA Division III Championship Regional Semifinal in Cousens Gym at Tufts University on Saturday afternoon.
The Pride won by the set scores of 25-22, 15-25, 25-17, 26-24 and have now earned a spot in the NCAA Division III Championship Regional Final for the second-consecutive season. The Pride will play either Tufts or UMass Boston on Sunday at 1 pm. The winner will earn a spot in the NCAA Championship Elite Eight held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Springfield now stands at 29-5, while MIT, who previously won the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship last weekend, has its season come to a close with a 29-5 mark.
Jennifer Donnelly (Exeter, R.I.) was sensational for the Pride as she totaled 15 kills, 12 digs, and five blocks, and Kayleigh Helgesen (Oceanside, Calif.) racked up 14 kills at a .333 clip. Hayley Kmetz (Ardsley, N.Y.) added 12 kills and 10 digs, and Marnae Mawdsley (Bolton, Conn.) handed out 38 assists to go along with 13 digs. Jamie Schneck (Livingston, N.J.) totaled five blocks and the defensive duo of Anagabrielle Sanchez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) and Jennifer Hurwitz (Longmeadow, Mass.) anchored the back line, combining for 46 digs, including 28 from Sanchez.
MIT's Megan Gebhard led her squad with 15 kills, while Lisette Tellez added 11 kills. Tori Wuthrich delievered 23 digs and Christina Liao was credited with 39 assists.
Springfield defense was remarkable in the opening set as it limited MIT to a .058 hitting percentage thanks to a combined 19 digs from Hurwitz and Sanchez. After the Engineers opened up the match with a 5-2 lead on an ace by Clare Farley, the Pride responded with a 8-2 push capped off by a Kmetz kill off the block. The Pride's lead ballooned to 21-13 following consecutive Engineer attack errors, but MIT would battle their way back with a 9-1 surge to close within 24-22 on a kill by Tellez. However, Helgesen crushed her third kill of the set to seal the 25-22 win.
After a block by Donnelly and Schneck put Springfield in front, 9-7, in the second set, MIT answered back with a 6-1 surge to earn a 13-10 lead following an ace. The Engineers took control of the set from that point forward, closing out the frame on a 12-5 surge to even the match at a set apiece. Springfield committed 11 attack errors in the set, the same total it would combine for in the other three sets in the afternoon.
Springfield earned a 9-7 lead in the third following a kill by Schneck and forced MIT into a timeout at 16-14 after Helgesen crushed a ball cross court in transition. Springfield didn't let up out of the break, pushing its lead to 20-15 when Hurwitz delivered a critical ace. With momentum on its side, the Pride closed out the frame on a 5-2 run to take a 25-17 win with a monster stuff from Schneck and Donnelly providing exclamation point.
Springfield saved its best offensive performance for the final set as it hit at a .324 clip as a team. Following a kill by Kmetz at 4-3, Springfield's lead grew to 10-5 when Helgesen chipped a kill off the block. MIT climbed within one on five different occasions, but the Pride would earn set point at 24-21 following a critical kill by Helgesen. However, MIT made one final push, rattling off three-straight points to tie the set for the fourth time. Helgesen sided out in transition down the line for match point and Kmetz ripped a match-sealing ace to send the Pride back to the Sweet 16.