KEENE, N.H. – After a very slow start in the first set, volleyball (15-7, 6-0 Little East) managed to bounce back and return to their dominating form and took the next three sets in order to defeat the host Owls of Keene State College (14-12, 3-2 Little East) by the final of 3-1 Thursday evening at Spaulding Gym. With the victory the Beacons locked-up their fourth straight Little East Conference regular season title and the top-seed in the conference tournament.
Keene State opened up Thursday's match with 25-20 victory to gain some early momentum. However the Beacons, overcame their poor showing in the first set to defeat the host Owls by the final of 25-17 to tie the score at 1-1. From there, UMB rolled to a 25-19 victory in the third and completely shut down Keene State in the third with their 25-10 decision.
Fueling the UMass Boston offense was senior Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) with her match-high 24 kills and .320 attack percentage. As a team, UMass hit just .025 in the first set, but progressively got better as the match continued. In the second they finished hitting .125, then .242 in the third, and finally .333 in the game-winning set. On the night UMB hit .176, while the late shift limited the host Owls to just .100 attack percentage.
Behind Thompson offensively was Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) who finished with nine kills on 24 attempts. Emma Rocha (Boynton Beach, Fla.) anchored the offense with her match-high 25 assists, followed by Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.) who finished with 12 helpers.
At the end-line UMB was solid scoring 12 aces, with five of those belonging to Rocha. Thompson finished the match with four aces, while Pollock recorded two and Brooke Nemethy (Oviedo, Fla.) one.
At the net Briana Sousa (Swansea, Mass.) posted a match-best four block assists, while Thompson and Morrison tallied three block assists. Thompson also recorded two solo blocks.
Volleyball returns to action on Tuesday when they travel to Plymouth State University for their regular season conference match. Start time is scheduled for 6 p.m. The Little East Conference tournament is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 30. UMB as well as the number two seed, which is yet to be determined received a first-round bye.
The semi-final round of the tournament is scheduled for November 3, with the championship set to be played on Sunday. The winner of the conference tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III regional tournament.