SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Led by the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, Lauren Torvi, the Springfield College women's volleyball team captured the 2011 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women's Volleyball Championship in five sets over Wellesley College on Sunday afternoon. The Pride earned the title by the scores of 25-19, 25-23, 21-25, 17-25, 15-9.
With the win, Springfield earns the NEWMAC's automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Championship and will find out its fate on the selection show on Monday afternoon. The Pride improved to 31-2 on the season, while the Blue fell to 23-9. This marks Springfield's fourth NEWMAC Championship and first since 2008. After receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA Championship last season, Springfield is headed to the national tournament for the third time in four seasons.
Torvi was sensational as she produced a match-high 21 kills, hitting .421, to go along with eight blocks and classmate Itza Nieves played an especially gritty match on defense, notching 23 digs. Tessa Smolinski posted 13 kills and 19 digs, while Kim Giaquinto tallied 12 kills, six digs, and five blocks. Molly Giannattasio played the first four sets and handed out 37 assists and picked up nine digs, before Whitney Miller guided the Pride to the five-set win with 12 assists and three digs in the final set and a half.
The Blue were led once again by Isabel Custodio who had a terrific match, tallying 18 kills, 23 assists, and nine digs. Libero Traci Hamanak anchored the visitors defense with a match-high 28 digs, while Sydney Carfagno picked up 13 kills and six digs. Hilary Ayers added 26 assists and eight digs, and Amanda Duritsch posted eight kills and three blocks in the loss.
In the opening set, the Pride turned a one-point advantage (6-5) in a six-point cushion following at 11-5 following a Nieves ace to force Wellesley into a timeout. The visiting Blue would get as close as four at 23-19 after a Carfagno kill, only to have a Torvi kill and Blue attack error give the hosts a 25-19 win.
A Giannattasio ace gave the Pride an early 10-6 lead in the second, only to have Wellesley respond. The Blue turned on a furious 10-3 run, capped off by a solo stuff by Custodio as Springfield called a timeout down 17-13. The Blue maintained its lead at three, 21-18, before the Pride rallied to win the second set. Three Wellesley attack errors and a service error allowed Springfield to take a 23-22 lead, and Torvi connected on a kill and teammed with Giannattasio for the set-clinching block.
Trailing 20-18 in the third, the Blue called a timeout and, after breaking from the huddle, rattled off the seven of the set's next eight points to win 25-21. Custodio was simply unstoppable in the run as she recorded five of her 18 kills in the match to make it a 2-1 contest.
Wellesley carried over that momentum into the fourth and raced out to a 7-3 lead after a big swing by Carfagno. Springfield would not go away lightly and got as close as two on several occasions, the last coming at 18-16 following a Smolinski kill. Wellesley was too strong down the stretch and closed out the frame on a 7-1 burst to force a deciding fifth set.
The Blue owned a slight 5-4 lead in the fifth before Springfield posted a 3-0 spurt, highlighted by a solo stuff from Mary Consol. Another Carfagno kill made it 7-6, but an ensuing service error and block from Consol and Giaquinto gave Springfield's its three-point lead again. The Pride looked to its seniors down the stretch and kills from Torvi and Giaquinto set up match point, which Torvi and Miller responded with on a big block on the pin to give Springfield the title.
Release courtesy of Springfield College Sports Information