QUINCY, Mass. – After a rocky first set, top-seeded UMass Boston regained its footing to hit .500 in the second and .600 in the third to earn the 3-0 win over fifth-seeded Rhode Island College to advance to the championship match of the 2012 Little East Conference tournament, Saturday afternoon at Quincy High School.
On the day, UMass Boston, which improved to 16-11 overall hit a combined .365 scoring 42 kills on 85 attempts. Rhode Island College, who closed out it's 2012 campaign with a 14-16 mark hit .205 in the contest, and nearly pulled out a first set upset over the top-ranked Beacons. UMass did manage to hang on in the first to take the 25-23 decision. In the second the Beacons notched a 25-16 win, while in the third they controlled the set from start to finish to take a 25-12 victory.
Individual the Beacons had six players finish with a .360 hitting percentage or better. Freshman middle Molly Witzmann (Encinitas, Calif.) had perhaps her best showing of the season as she hit .500 in her first postseason match. Brooke Nemethy (Oviedo, Fla.) and Amber Clemons (Simi Valley) posted a .444 and .421 hitting percentage respectively. Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) was the Beacons leader in kills with 12, followed by Clemons with 11.
For the Anchorwomen Amanda Cabral led her squad in kills with 13, while Michelle Malboeuf posted a team-best .333 hitting percentage.
Setters Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.) and Emma Rocha (Boynton Beach, Fla.) tallied a combined 45 assists respectively, while their RIC counterpart Jessica Ho totaled 28 assists in Saturday's semi-final.
Defensively, UMB was solid all afternoon, with junior hitter Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) finishing with eight digs. Nemethy was second on the team with six digs. At the net UMB recorded six team blocks overall, with Thompson leading the way with two solo stops and two block assists.
In the opening frame, UMass and Rhode Island exchanged points, with neither team really gaining any type of momentum. In total there were eight lead changes in the first set. The two teams were also tied on the scoreboard an additional 15 times. It was not until a 7-0 run late in the set that UMass was able to take control of the contest. With set point on the scoreboard for UMB, Rhode Island made one last push and managed to make it just a one-point game. However with a kill from Clemons the Beacons were able to secure the victory to take a 1-0 lead overall.
In the second set UMass once again had to overcome a hungry RIC squad, but with another run, this time coming midway through the set the Beacons were able to jump out to a comfortable lead. The Beacons limited any rallies and used consistent sets from both Pollock and Rocha to keep the Anchorwomen defense guessing. UMass closed out the second set with an ace from Porter.
The third set was the Beacons best, as they scored 12 kills on 20 attempts, without surrendering an error. UMass held the Anchorwomen to single-digits, while they tallied a combined 21 points. Rhode Island broke into double-figures on a kill by Cabral. UMass would seal the win on a RIC hitting error.
Tomorrow's appearance in the conference tournament finals will mark the fifth straight for the Beacons, as they look to earn their fourth consecutive conference title. Start time of the championship match is scheduled for noon.