MEDFORD, Mass. – It was a long and crazy day as five teams competed in the 2012 UMass Boston Beacons Invitational at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University. After the dust settled on day one fourth ranked Christopher Newport University (23-2) remained the only undefeated team in this year’s tournament having earned back-to-back victories.
This year’s tournament features two nationally ranked teams in Christopher Newport and Southwestern University (Texas) (15-7). Also competing in the Invitational is three of New England’s top-tier teams in the host Beacons of UMass Boston (13-6), the Jumbos of Tufts University (10-8), and the Gulls of Endicott College (9-14).
The day started with the host Jumbos taking on the Pirates of Southwestern. The 23rd ranked Pirates defeated Tufts in three games by the finals of 25-10, 25-19, and 25-22. Leading the way for Southwestern was Meredith Rollins who posted 12 kills on 38 attempts. Behidn her was Olivia Drummond and Rachel Thibodeau with seven kills each. Lacey Strickland posted 28 assists, while defensively five Pirates finished in double-figures in digs, with Chandler Lentz leading the way with 20 digs. Combined Southwestern totaled seven team blocks (1s, 12a) in the opening win. For the Jumbos it was Kelly Brennan’s eight kills that led her team. Kendall Lord put-up 20 assists, and Virginia Clay finished with 20 digs, while Lord posted 18 digs of-her-own. Tufts was just as strong at the net as they combined eight team blocks (16 assists) in the loss.
In match number two it was the host Beacons taken on the Gulls of Endicott. That match proved to be the only five-set match of the day, with UMB narrowly pulling out the 3-2 victory (25-21, 25-16, 26-28, 22-25, 15-8). Shannon Thompson was solid the entire match scoring 23 kills. Corrine Porter and Kirsten Morrison each finished with 12 throw-downs, while Amber Clemons posted 10. Emma Rocha and Megan Pollock combined for 54 assists respectively, and Kayla Wilson put-up 27 digs, with Porter right behind her with 22. UMB combined 10.5 blocks to lead the way at the net (2s, 17a). The Gull saw Jackie Cane and Mackenzie Guerre combine for 29 kills respectively to lead the offense. Alleigh VandeMerkt combined for 38 assists, while Ashley Norley finished with 28 digs.
The third contest of the afternoon proved to quite the sprint as the two nationally ranked teams faced off. The Captains of CNU, who were the 2011 national runner-ups jumped out to an early 2-0 lead following a 25-15 win in the first set and a 25-23 win in the second. Southwestern did battle back to take a 25-23 decision in the third. In the fourth, CNU wasted little time taking back the momentum as they cruised to a 25-11 decision. A total of three captains finished in double-figures in kills with Bailey Jensen scoring a match-best 16. Cory Harris and Jessie Kolden finished with 10 and 11 digs respectively. Setter Alyssa Kidd was on-point as totaled 51 assists in the victory. Abby Hogge was dominant defensively with her 32 digs, while the Captains as a whole finished with 12 team blocks (6s, 12a). For the Pirates Meredith Rollins combined for 12 kills. Lacey Strickland was solid tallying 32 assists and a pair of aces. Kaitlyn Foster led the Pirates with 18 kills, while Olivia Drummond finished with a team-best three block assists.
It was another close match in Saturday’s fourth contest as Endicott had to hold off a hungry Tufts squad that looked to bounce back from an early 2-0 hole. After dropping the first two sets 26-24 and 25-18, the Jumbos came stomping back to take a 25-23 win in third set. They nearly pulled off the same result in the fourth, but the Gulls managed to rally late and take the 27-25 decision. Mackenzie Gueer led her squad with 16 kills and finished second with her .382 attack percentage. Alleigh VandeMerkt totaled 44 assists and one ace. Lexi Watts and Ashley Norley each posted a team-best three aces. Norley also combined for a match-best 30 digs. Kelly Brennan led the Jumbos offense with 18 kills. Kendall Lord fueled Tufts offense with her 42 assists. Cameron Longyear led the match with four aces and Carolina Berger posted a team-best 19 digs. Combined Tufts finished with 15 block assists and two solo blocks.
The final match of the day saw UMB taking on the Captains in front of a loud crowd of Beacons fans. The first set could have gone either way, but it was CNU who managed to earn the 25-22 victory. That win would be all the Captains needed as they handed UMB a 25-19 loss in the second and a 25-14 loss in the third to remain undefeated in the tournament. CNU’s offense was spread around with only one player finishing in double-figures in kills, Jessie Kolden with 10. Alyssa Kidd tallied 29 assists, and Abby Hogge finished with 25 digs. As a squad CNU totaled 16 block assists and one solo stop. For the host Beacons, Thompson led the squad with 15 kills, with setters Emma Rocha and Megan Pollock finished with 27 assists respectively. Corrine Porter totaled 15 digs and Molly Witzmann had two of the Beacons four block assists.
All five teams return to action tomorrow in the final day of the tournament.