Top 13 of 2013: Volleyball Captures Second-Straight Regional Title
This is the thirteenth and final post in our Top 13 of 2013 series. For the past 12 days we've counted down the Top 13 moments/games of the year, with each program represented. With three Little East Conference Titles, several huge upsets over nationally ranked teams and some dramatic finishes-2013 was another step forward for UMass Boston Athletics.
We conclude our list with a repeat at number one: Volleyball claiming a regional title that no one expected them to play for.
A year after playing all of their "home" games on the road, the 2013 squad was faced with a new set of challenges. Co-head coaches Terry Condon and Mike Houlihan integrated nine true freshmen into the mix, including three starters, while playing against the second toughest schedule in the nation.
For much of the 2013 campaign the team struggled to retain any kind of momentum, trading wins and losses throughout September and October to enter November with a 17-14 record. That's when things started to come together, as UMass Boston upset #26 Roger Williams University on the road, before winning three of their next four, to earn their fifth-straight Little East Conference Tournament Title.
Even with their small winning streak, few people expected the Beacons to repeat as dark horses-after earning just two wins in 10 tries against NCAA Tournament teams during the regular season.
UMass Boston kept their repeat hopes alive with a 3-0 win over Wellesley College in the first round of the regional tournament, as they knocked off a squad that had handed them a 3-0 loss on their home court in early October.
The Beacons followed up the win with a 3-1 win over top-seeded Roger Williams University-their second win over the Hawks in 15 days, to set up a matchup with second-seeded and host Williams College.
For the second-straight year UMass Boston athletes and students took the drive to the regional final site to support their team, only this time the playing field would be much more even. Throughout the contest the Beacons and Ephs fans traded cheers and tried to outshout each other, creating a dramatic background for the Regional Final Match.
While UMass Boston was playing their best volleyball of the season, the Ephs boasted the top player in the region in First Team All-American Tori Jasuta and a gaudy 14-0 record at home entering the finals.
Williams grabbed a 1-0 lead in the match as they claimed a 25-19 first set victory by taking advantage of the youthful Beacons nerves in the opening set.
The Beacons rallied for a huge 25-16 set two win to tie the match at 1-1 and send the two teams into a 10-minute intermission.
While the break was enough to briefly calm down each teams' fan bases, the Beacons came out of the intermission even hotter, hitting .378 in set three.
Despite UMB's hot hitting the Ephs wouldn't go down easily, as the two sides traded points the whole way, setting up a dramatic finish. After Williams cut the deficit to 21-20, the Beacons rattled off four-straight points to grab a 2-1 match lead, behind a pair of huge kills from Amber Clemons (Simi Valley, Calif.) and a set-clinching service ace from Elizabeth Glavan (Edina, Minn.).
The fourth set looked destined to be another tight one, as the two teams traded the first eight points, before Jasuta dislocated her shoulder. With the Ephs top hitter back in the locker room, UMass Boston took seven of the next eight points to grab an 11-5 lead.
UMass Boston kept the momentum going the rest of the way to set up Championship Point at 24-16. After a Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) serve, the Ephs return attempt was smashed down by the Beacons block of Julia Murphy (Canton, Mass.) and Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.) to lift UMass Boston to their third regional title in four years.
The victory sent seniors Christine DuPuis (Minden, Nev.), Porter, Clemons and Pollock to their third Elite Eight in four years and gave them their 122nd victory in just 159 career matches.
While UMass Boston eventually fell just short against #1 Calvin College in the Elite Eight, the Beacons incredible November run will go down as one of the top stretches in UMass Boston Volleyball program history.