Springfield, Mass. - November 7, 2010 - Led by the tournament's most outstanding player, Lauren Bloch, the second-seeded Coast Guard women's volleyball team rallied to defeat top-seeded Springfield College, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon as it captured the 2010 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship. The Bears earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament after winning by the game scores of 14-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-21.
The Bears now stand at 29-5 on the season, while Springfield falls to 29-4 on the year. The Pride will now await to see if it earns an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament, which will be announced Monday morning.
Bloch was unstoppable in the victory as she pounded home 19 kills at a .548 clip to go along with 12 digs. Teammate Catherine Walker produced 15 kills, while Kelsey DePorto tallied 10 kills and four blocks. Karen Matic directed the Bear offense as she handed out 54 assists and added 10 digs. Libero Jessica Anderson had a solid match on the back line for the visitors, collecting 12 digs in the win.
Kim Giaquinto had a strong showing for the Pride as she notched 11 kills while hitting .429, and classmate Lauren Torvi added a team-best 12 kills out of the middle. Tessa Smolinski was credited with nine kills and nine digs, and Kelsea Hellyar racked up 42 assists and 11 digs.
In the opening game, a back and forth start found the score 6-6 before a Coast Guard attack error led to a quick 3-0 spurt for Springfield. The Pride stretched the lead to 13-8 when another Coast Guard attack error forced the Bears to call their first timeout. Springfield's lead ballooned to nine at 19-10 as Sarah Lang-Rodean tipped an attack around a double block attempt by the Bears. The Bears were plagued by nine attack errors in the opening set, and Smolinski put it away 25-14 with a service ace.
It was a much different story in the second set as the Bears jumped out to a quick lead, shifting the momentum their way after a tough opening game. An ace by Walker made it 4-1, and after back and forth play took the score to 12-11, Coast Guard went on a three point run to force a Springfield timeout at 15-11. Coast Guard extended the lead to 21-15, and eventually evened the match at one after Nicole Johnson’s kill gave the Bears a 25-17 second set victory. Johnson came off the bench for four kills in five attempts, helping Coast Guard hit .407 for the game.
In the third set, the Bears picked up right where they left off, jumping out to a 4-1 lead once again. Springfield got within one, 8-7, on a Lang-Rodean kill, only to have Coast Guard rattle off three straight points. Springfield answered right back, bringing the score to 12-11 midway through the set when Hellyar set up Giaquinto for the kill. From there, Coast Guard ripped off a 9-4 run that brought the score to 21-15. The hosts managed a 3-0 spurt out of timeout to get within striking distance at 21-18, but the Bears were able to stop the run and hold on for the set victory. Johnson once again produced the final kill to give the Bears a 25-20 win.
The Bears took the early lead again in the fourth set with the intent to finish the match in four. A Walker kill made it 11-7 in favor of Coast Guard midway through the frame, before a Springfield service error and attack error handed the Bears a 14-9 lead and forced a Pride timeout. Coast Guard hammered out 10 kills in their first 17 swings of the set before a Lang-Rodean block made it 16-12 in favor of the Bears. Another Walker kill at 19-13 forced Springfield into its second timeout of the game. Torvi brought Springfield within three at 22-19, but as she had all game, Bloch answered with a kill of her own. Springfield would close the gap to 23-21, but DePorto’s service ace gave the Bears a 25-21 fourth set victory and the NEWMAC Tournament title.