Springfield, Mass. - October 27, 2018 - The Springfield College women's volleyball team clinched the top seed in the upcoming New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship after it downed Emerson in four sets in its regular-season finale on Saturday in Blake Arena. Springfield prevailed by the set scores of 25-27, 25-9, 25-18, 25-22.
With the win, the Pride improved to 22-6, 9-1 in conference play and earned a share of the regular-season title for the eighth time in program history and first since 2015. By virtue of a tiebreaker, and thanks to its four-set victory over MIT on September 11, Springfield earned the top seed in the upcoming NEWMAC Championship for the first time since 2013. The Pride will host a championship semifinal on Thursday at 7 pm in Blake Arena.
Jen Donnelly (Exeter, R.I.) was tremendous in the victory for Springfield as the senior notched a match-high 19 kills at a .366 clip to go along with 15 digs. It also proved to be a historic match for Donnelly, as she became the 11th player in program history to reach the 1,000 career kill plateau. Katie vonKampen (South Setauket, N.Y.) delivered a career-high 18 kills, hitting .577 on the day, while adding a match-high five blocks. Sara Labadorf (Huntersville, N.C.) racked up 50 assists in leading the Pride to a .296 hitting percentage and 59 kills in four sets. Briana Tovar (Tucson, Ariz.) added a match-high 17 digs and three aces.
The setback dropped Emerson to 15-14, 2-8 as the Lions were held to a .089 hitting percentage on the afternoon. Grace Tepper totaled a team-best 10 kills, Moira Brennan handed out 29 assists, Lauren Quan produced 16 digs, and Fara Cohen registered three aces.
After Springfield jumped out to a 4-1 lead to start the match, Emerson would respond with a 7-1 surge to gain an 8-5 cushion. The Pride would whistle for its first timeout at 14-13 following a kill by the Lions, and would answer out of the break with a 6-1 push, getting an ace from Demi Spanos (West Harrison, N.Y.) to earn a 19-15 edge. The visitors pushed back with four-straight points to force the Pride into another timeout, but Springfield would regain a 23-22 edge when vonKampen put a ball away in the middle. However, the Lions used a block and ace out of their final timeout to earn the first of their three set points before Kelly Guerra converted out of the middle for the 27-25 win. Springfield totaled 17 kills in the frame, with five coming off the arm of Camryn Bancroft (Eastport, N.Y.), in a set where there were 15 ties.
Springfield came out focused in the second set, seizing a 6-0 lead after Donnelly bounced an overpass. The frame would be all Springfield, as Bancroft and Donnelly sealed for a stuff on the pin at 16-5 as Emerson burned a timeout. The hosts would eventually take the set, 25-9, as it hit at a .474 clip in the frame, led by seven kills from Donnelly.
Facing a 13-9 deficit in the third, Springfield poured on four-straight points coming out of a timeout as Bancroft put away an overpass to knot the set at 13-all. After Emerson earned a 16-15 lead on a Pride serving error, the hosts rattled off a 10-2 surge to pull away with a 25-18 win. Springfield leaned on vonKampen throughout the burst , and the junior totaled four of her seven third-set kills. Springfield totaled 18 kills in the set, which came at a .310 clip.
In the fourth, a big swing from Spanos allowed the Pride to open up a 7-2 lead, but the visitors answered back to get within 15-14 following an ace. Using a 9-3 surge that was highlighted by aces from Tovar and Ashley Tanner (Manorville, N.Y.), Springfield earned match point at 24-17 following a Donnelly kill. After Emerson responded with five-straight points, Donnelly put the exclamation point on the win with her 19th kill of the night for the 25-22 triumph.