BOSTON, Mass. – Led by the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player and the conference's top libero Macayla Chianco (Clearwater, Fla.) UMass Boston hoisted their eighth Little East Conference Tournament Championship as they blanked the Owls of Keene State College, 3-0 Saturday afternoon in the Clark Athletic Center Gymnasium.
#1 UMass Boston 3, #2 Keene State College 0
UMass Boston (15-15)
Keene State College (24-6)
HOW IT HAPPENED
With the win, the Beacons have secured the Little East Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, which will take place next week at a site to be determined.
After a very tight first set saw the Beacons sneak by with a 25-19 victory, UMass Boston erupted in the second frame and cruised to a 25-15 victory to take a commanding 2-0 lead. In the third set, UMass Boston continued to fire on all cylinders early. However, Keene State quickly closed the gap, and actually took a solid lead late in the frame.
After taking a 20-16 lead on an attack error by the Beacons, UMass Boston felt its grip on the match slipping through their fingers. Keene State continued to take advantage of the Beacons in-ability to put the match away, as they came within just two points (23-20) of winning the set.
Luckily, the Beacons found the strength to go on one last surge and outscored the Owls 4-1 to tie the match at 24-24. An attack error by the Owls put the Beacons one point away from securing their title. After a Keene State timeout, freshman transfer Emilia Czapiewska (Saint Paul, Minn.) completed the Beacons come-from-behind win as she crushed a shot down the line after a perfect set from Rachel Maslach (Berlin Center, Ohio).
Even though Saturday's match was between the top-2 teams in the Little East Conference, neither squad had a solid offensive afternoon. The Beacons managed to hit .084, while the Owls were held to a -.110 clip.
Maslach ended the championship match with 18 assists, and had four kills for a .214 hitting percentage. Chianco finished the Little East Conference Tournament with a combined 50 digs respectively, as the senior tallied 20 put-ups in the title game.
Czapiewska led the match with eight kills, while Eileen Shi (San Francisco, Calif.) and Alex Gibbs (Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas) each recorded six kills. Sarah Doyle posted four kills and had three of the Beacons six solo blocks, and one of the team's 10 block assists.
For the Owls Olivia Mathieu tallied seven kills, while Bailey Wilson finished with 18 assists. Three Owls finished with 10 or more digs in the loss, with Kait West leading the team with 11. Jennifer Severino led the way for the Owls at the net with her three solo blocks, while also recording one block assist. Severino played a huge part in the Owls late rally in the third set that nearly shifted the momentum of the match.
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston has now won eight titles in the last nine years, more than any other team in Little East history
- The Owls failed to hit over -.053 for the match, while the Beacons finished the second set with a match-high .185 hitting percentage.
- The Beacons combined for 16 total blocks in the match and had eight service aces
- Saturday's match marked the sixth meeting between Beacons and Owls in the Little East title match
- Saturday's win was also just as sweet for head coach Mike Houlihan as it was his 100th career head coaching win with the Beacons
The Beacons will find out who they will face and where the regional tournament will be held on Monday at 12:30 p.m. at http://www.ncaa.com/fallselections