BOSTON, Mass. - With another match changing performance from the tournament's Most Outstanding Player Patsy Boland (Chicago, Ill.) volleyball won their fifth straight Little East Conference tournament title as they defeated the second-seeded Owls of Keene State College by the final score of 3-1 Sunday afternoon at the Clark Athletic Center Gymnasium.
The win secures the Beacons (21-15) automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division III tournament which is scheduled to begin this Friday at a location that will be announced tomorrow afternoon during the NCAA selection show. Start time for the selection show is scheduled for 11 a.m. at http://www.ncaa.com/live/player?vid=2013/1302&date=2013/11/11.
Boland's match-high 13 kills brought her weekend total to 26 kills respectively as the Chicago native was more than consistent in the two victories. Corrine Porter (Huntington Beach, Calif.) also matched her teammate in the kill's category and finished with 13 digs.
In the opening game, the Beacons came out firing as they jumped out to a 17-4 lead to start of Sunday's championship match. The Beacons were hitting all their spots while also keeping the Owls off balance with a variety of serves.
Keene State (20-13) did manage to claw back into the match, but it was too little too late as the Beacons cruised to a 25-14 decision. However the momentum quickly shifted to the Owls in the second game as they took advantage of some early errors by UMB. They would eventually double-up the Beacons on the scoreboard (16-8), but the early lead did not last as the Beacons came storming back. UMB would go on a 9-4 run to cut the huge Keene State deficit down to three (20-17). The Owls did manage another strong push to move within two points of clinching the game.
Not ready to give-up and move onto the third game, the Beacons fought back yet again this time rattling off five straight points to make it 23-22. Keene State moved into game point (24-22) with a kill by Madeline Nossif. The Beacons then made it a one point game on a kill by Boland (24-23). Unfortunately the game would go to the Owls on a Nossif kill that landed between two Beacons players.
The third game was a back-and-forth exchange from start to finish with neither earning a lead larger than two points. Both teams were nearly identical offensively with Keene scoring 14 kills as compared to UMB's 13. The turning point of the game came when UMB and Keene were deadlocked at 19-19. The Beacons scored back-to-back kills from Porter and Julia Murphy (Canton, Mass.) to make it 21-19. Keene did manage to tie the game with a quick two score run. The two squads then exchanged points to make it 22-22. Keene State regained the lead on a kill by Samantha Branning.
Following a Beacons timeout, UMass tied the match at 23 all on another clutch kill from Boland. UMB then took a 24-23 lead on a Keene State attack error. The game-winning point was the result of a Bri Sousa (Swansea, Mass.) and Boland block to put UMB up two games to one.
The dramatic ending to the third game clearly took the wind out of the Owls sails as UMB just cruised in the fourth game. After a quick exchange in the beginning of the fourth, the Beacons would go on one of their biggest runs of the year to defeat Keene State 25-9.
For the Beacons they managed to overcome the two tough middle games to hit a combined .247 on the day. The Beacons finished with 54 kills on 150 attempts. Setter Megan Pollock (Wilton, Calif.) tallied a match-high 45 assists and finished with 11 digs and a pair of aces. Murphy was the third Beacon to finish in double-figures as she scored 11 kills and a match-high .429 hitting percentage.
At Left: Freshman Patsy Boland was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Little East Conference tournament after leading the Beacons to a 3-1 win over Keene State College.
At the net Sousa, who struggled early-on bounced back in a big way especially in the fourth game. The sophomore middle finished with five block assists and one solo block and also had seven kills. Proving to be the most dominant at the end line was Porter as she finished with five of the Beacons 17 aces. Keene State managed just three aces in the entire match.
Defensively Elizabeth Glavan (Edina, Minn.) was solid from start to finish as she recorded 26 digs to lead four Beacons players that finished with 10 or more digs. Pollock managed 11 digs to go with her impressive 45 helpers to earn the Beacons second double-double of the contest.
For the Owls, sophomore Angela Silveri combined for 13 kills, followed by Nossif who had nine. Alexis Michael tallied 22 assists and had nine digs. Sammy Dormio and Kaitlyn Boyer each recorded a team-best 16 digs.
The title marks the fifth straight for the Beacons tying the conference record originally set by Western Connecticut State University (1999-2003). Today's match marked only the first time during the Beacons run to five straight titles that they lost a game, having defeated all previous opponents 3-0.