Nov. 4, 2011
BOSTON, Mass. – After closing out the 2011 regular season with a 24-4 record, 6-1 in the Little East Conference, the 20th ranked and second seed Beacons will travel to Plymouth, New Hampshire to face the third-seed Keene State College Owls in the semi-final round of the 2011 Little East Conference tournament. The two teams will go head-to-head tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. in Foley Gymnasium on the campus of Plymouth State University.
Tomorrow’s match-up will mark the first-ever meeting between the Beacons and the Owls in the semi-final round of the LEC tournament. Since 2008, the two teams have met in the championship match just two other times, with Keene State winning in it in ’08 (3-2), and UMass winning it in 2010 (3-0).
The trip to Plymouth is also the first-time since 2008 that the Beacons will be on the road for the Little East Conference tournament. Prior to hosting it in 2010 and 2009, UMass traveled to Keene State in 2008 and Plymouth State in 2007.
Under the direction of head coach Terry Condon, the Beacons will look to become only the third team in tournament history to win three-straight titles (Eastern Conn. State 05-07 & Western Conn. State 99-03). The past two seasons, UMass has won in decisive fashion defeating Keene State, 3-0 in 2010 and Plymouth State, 3-1 in 2009.
This season, the Beacons will once again look to two-time All-American Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Cali.) to help lead an offense that ranks third in the country in kills per set with 13.76 kps. The Beacons are also one of the top teams in Division III women’s volleyball when it comes to hitting percentage (4th, .301), assists per set (16th, 11.98), and match win-loss percentage (t-20th, .857). Thompson closed out the 2011 regular season as a three-time Little East Conference Offensive Player of the Week, two-time ECAC New England Region Player of the Week, and the first player in program history to earn AVCA Division III National Player of the Week honors. On the year the 6-2 middle hitter is ranked ninth in the country in kills with 382 and eighth in points per set with 5.15.
Also helping to fuel the Beacons attack this weekend will be senior Molly Rattigan (Dorchester, Mass.). Going into her final LEC volleyball tournament, Rattigan has put together one of the best seasons of her career. With a hitting percentage of .436, Rattigan ranks fourth in Division III women’s volleyball and leads the Little East Conference. So far this season, Rattigan has thrown down 232 kills on 436 attempts, while only giving up 42 errors. Not afraid to stand at the net, Rattigan currently ranks second on the team behind Thompson with 82 total blocks. Thompson currently leads UMass with 92 stops going into this weekend’s championship tournament.
Sophomore and reining LEC Rookie of the Year, Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Cali.) has also had a strong season for the Beacons. With 263 kills to her name, Porter ranks second on the team and eighth in the Little East Conference. Porter is also one of the team’s top defensive players, totaling 260 digs this season.
Setting the foundation to the Beacons extremely tough and fast offense is senior setter Cassy Hanneman (Denver, Colo.). Truly the greatest setter in the history of UMass Boston volleyball, Hanneman enters this weekend averaging 10.7 assists per set, which leads the conference and is 16th in the country. Also not afraid to hit the floor when needed, Hanneman ranks third on this year’s team with a combined 203 digs as well.
Adding some depth to this year’s line-up was newcomers Kayla Wilson (San Jose, Cali.) and Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.). From her first day in Boston, Wilson has filled the starting libero roll for the Beacons. In 92 sets played, Wilson has totaled a team leading 292 digs, and is also one of seven players to record 20 or more service aces this season.
Morrison has also contributed greatly to the Beacons front line scoring a combined 156 kills on 360 total attempts (.317 hitting percentage). The 6-2 freshman currently sits third on the team in blocks with 59 and is averaging 2.32 points per set.
If UMass wins tomorrow’s match with Keene State, they will advance to the championship round, which will be played on Sunday at noon. In the other semi-final match it will be the host Panthers of Plymouth State, who earned the top-seed taking on the fifth seed Warriors of Eastern Connecticut State University. Eastern Connecticut upset the fourth seed Colonials of Western Connecticut State University in the first-round match by the final score of 3-2.
The winner of this weekend’s tournament will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament. The tournament brackets will be announced on Monday at 11 a.m. on NCAA .com.