Springfield, Mass. -- November 12, 2011 -- Behind sophomore Tessa Smolinski, #1-seeded Springfield College defeated #4-seeded Tufts University, 3-1, tonight at the NCAA Division III New England Women's Volleyball Regional Championship at SC's Blake Arena. Game scores were 20-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-23.
With the win, Springfield is now 33-2, and avenged one of its only two losses this season. On Oct. 22, Tufts had beaten SC, 3-1. Tufts, meanwhile, finishes its season with a superb 26-6 overall record.
This sets a up a rematch of a final between Springfield and #2-seeded UMass-Boston, which earlier this afternoon defeated #3-seeded Bowdoin, 3-2. Last year these same two squads squared off for the 2010 NCAA Division III New England Championship.
Smolinski had a tremendous match for the Pride, producing 21 kills on just two errors in 46 attempts, which equates to .413 hitting percentage. Kim Giaquinto had 11 kills, and Lauren Torvi added 10.
Itza Nieves led the Pride with 22 digs, Smolinski had 12, and Giaquinto 10.
For all this, however, it was Whitney Miller who made a huge difference as she ran the show for SC. She finished with 35 set assists and added nine digs.
For Tufts, Kelly Brennan and and Cara Spieier each accumulated 16 kills. Isabel Kuhel aded nine kills. Kendall Lord had 42 set assists. Three players had a healthy number of digs, including Lord with 20, Spieier with 15, and Audrey Kuan with 14. Brennan finished with four blocks.
If there was a turning point, it may have come at the end of the second game. Springfield had lost the first game, and was down 21-19 in game #2. But Springfield put on perhaps its best surge of the night, scoring the final six points of that game. That tied matters at 1-1, and allowed Springfield to gather needed momentum.