Medford, Mass. - November 13, 2016 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team's season came to a close on Sunday afternoon when it was defeated by Tufts University in four sets in the NCAA Division III Championship Sweet 16 at Cousens Gym.
Tufts advances to Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III Championship in Oshkosh, Wisconsin as the Jumbos improved to 30-3 on the year and avenged an earlier 3-0 setback to Springfield on October 21.
Playing the NCAA Regional Championship for the second-straight season and the fourth time in the past seven years, Springfield concluded another incredible season with a 29-6 record. For their efforts the entire weekend Lauren Holt (Granby, Conn.) and Kayleigh Helgesen (Oceanside, Calif.) were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Helgesen paced the Pride with 11 kills on the afternoon, wihle Holt notched eight kills and four blocks. Jennifer Donnelly (Exeter, R.I.) totaled 11 digs and eight kills and Anagabrielle Sanchez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) was credited with team-best 15 digs.
Mackenzie Bright was named the MVP of the regional championship and produced a match-best 18 kills at a .343 hitting percentage. Both McKenzie Humann and Elizabeth Ahrens tallied 11 kills apiece and Brigid Bell racked up a match-best 16 digs. Tufts hit .286 in the victory, with Angela Yu registering 47 assists.
Tufts jumped out to a 7-3 lead to start the match when Bright hammered a ball cross court and Springfield burned its first timeout of the afternoon after Maddie Stewart chipped a kill off the block to push the hosts advantage to 10-5. After Hayley Kmetz (Ardsley, N.Y.) ripped her second ace of the day to bring the Pride within 13-10, the Jumbos put together a 6-1 surge to open up a 19-11 cushion. Springfield responded with four-straight points, capped off by an overpass kil from Jamie Schneck (Livingston, N.J.), but the Jumbos offense was too much as it ended the game on a 6-1 run to take a 25-16 win. The hosts totaled 16 kills at a .500 clip and held the Pride to a .061 hitting percentage.
The Jumbos earned a 9-6 advantage early in the second set on another kill from Aherns, only to have the Pride storm back with a 7-3 push to snag their first lead of the day following a kill by Kmetz. A sideout kill by Bell kickstarted a set-changing 8-0 surge to give the Jumbos a comfortable 20-13 lead. Springfield, which hit just .079, eventually dropped a 25-17 decision to find itself down 2-0 in the match.
It was a different looking Springfield team in the third set, as the Pride broke open a six-all tie with a 7-0 run thanks to five misuces by the Jumbos. The Pride's lead would balloon to 19-10 on a solo stuff from Holt, only to have Tufts storm back with a 7-1 surge to force Springfield into a timeout with its lead narrowed to 20-17. The Jumbos would get as close as 23-22, but critical kills from Donnelly and Helgesen finished off the 25-23 win for the visitors. The Pride would finish the set hitting .343, with Helgesen totaling five kills.
After trailing by as many as three in the fourth, the Pride battled back to knot things at 13-all on a cross-court swing by Donnelly. However, hosts took control of the match for good with a 7-1 run before Bright blasted her 18th kill of the afternoon to send the hosts to the Elite Eight.