September 28, 2012

Volleyball Hands No. 26 Wellesley First Loss of Season with Five Set Victory

WELLESLEY, Mass. – Led by a match changing 6.5 blocks by Briana Sousa (Swansea, Mass.) and a combined 18 kills from Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, Calif.) volleyball (10-5) upended previously undefeated and 26th ranked Wellesley College (14-1) in a thrilling five-set victory Friday evening at Dorothy Towne Fieldhouse.

Friday's win was retribution for the Beacons after the Blue ended the Beacons 22-match win streak last season, as they brought Wellesley's win streak to a screeching halt.  Wellesley entered the non-conference showdown ranked 26th on the most recent American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-25 poll and was also ranked first on the New England Women's Volleyball Association (NEWVA) regional poll having received seven of the possible eight first place votes.

UMass Boston, who was looking to bounce back from their tough loss to Bowdoin College on Tuesday caught the Blue completely by surprise in the first set as they earned a 25-19 victory.  One Wellesley realized they had a match on their hands they quickly answered back in the second set as they took a commanding lead over UMB.  However the Beacons did not lay down as they erased an eight point deficit.  Unfortunately, Wellesley managed to hold off the Beacons rally to take a 25-23 victory tying the match at 1-1.

Wellesley would then jump out to a 2-1 lead after taking a 25-21 win in the third set.  Knowing they needed a win in a big way, the Beacons rallied in the fourth and earned a 25-23 decision forcing the deciding fifth set.  That set would belong to the Beacons in what was one of the most intense matches of the season for both squads.  UMB secured their 10th win of the year with a stunning 15-13 decision on a huge Sousa block.

Sousa, who played in her first collegiate five-set match of her very young career, was outstanding at the net as she posted 11 block assists and one solo block.  Her 11 block assists set a new single match record for the Beacons, breaking the original mark of eight set by Molly Rattigan last October against RIT.  Thompson posted her match-high 18 kills on 58 attempts to fuel the Beacons offense, with finished with 47 kills on the night.  The senior hitter would also tally 15 digs on the night to record UMB's only double-double.

Senior Kayla Wilson (San Jose, Calif.) led the Beacons defensive effort with 23 digs, with Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) finishing second with 15 and Emma Rocha (Boynton Beach, Fla.) with 11. 

As a team, UMB posted 16 blocks to lead the contest, which also tied the program record for most blocks in a five-set match.  Rocha anchored the offense along with Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.) as the two combined for 40 assists respectively.

For the Blue Isabel Custodio led her team with 18 kills, followed by Sydney Carfagno who had 17.  Setters Hilary Ayers and Custodio combined for 48 assists respectively, while Vivian Hu posted a match-best 30 digs.

Volleyball returns to action on Tuesday when they host Tufts University at 6 p.m. at Boston College High School.