Nov. 12, 2009

Courtesy of Westfield St. Athletics

MEDFORD, Mass. -
After dropping the first set, the UMass-Boston Beacons won three straight to defeat the Westfield State College Owls 3-1 (19-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-16) in a first round matchup in the 2009 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship on Thursday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium on the campus of Tufts University.

The Owls - seeed No. 7 in the eight-team regional - bolted ahead in the first set to a set-high lead of six points at 19-13. No. 2 seed UMass-Boston was not able to string anything together to make a comeback as Westfield State took the first set by the six-point margin at 25-19.

The second set was nip and tuck, seeing ties at 7-7, 8-8 and 10-10. The Beacons then reeled off five straight for a 15-10 advantage. Westfield State would only get as close at four points the rest of the way as UMass-Boston evened the match up at one set apiece with a 25-14 set victory.

UMass-Boston took control in the third set and built a six-point advantage at 20-14, but the Owls showed no quit and came back to tie at 23-23. However, the Beacons tallied the final two points for the 25-23 win.
Trying to stage a comeback, Westfield State assumed a 4-0 lead to begin the fourth set, but the Beacons battled back to score ten of the next 12 points. The Owls were not able to mount a rally and UMass-Boston earned the four-set match win with the 25-16 victory.

First-year Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, CA) had a strong contest with 14 kills and a match-high 21 digs for UMass Boston (30-4). The match-high in kills came from senior Kate McWhorter (Bakersfield, CA) with 17, while sophomore Cassy Hanneman (Denver, CO) recorded 35 assists to go with two service aces. First-year Bethany Rossoll (Colorado Spring, CO) chipped in with 14 digs for the match.

For Westfield State (19-16), sophomore Kerin DiGiralomo (North Attleboro, MA) led the match with 37 assists and also tallied 12 digs. Senior Stephanie Bartkus (North Merrick, NY) led the Owls with 14 kills, while sophomore Alex Shaw (East Falmouth, MA) added nine kills and one service ace. Senior Katie Kurty (Ludlow, MA) had a team-high 17 digs.

"We stopped being afraid of playing in the NCAA tournament," UMass Boston coach Terry Condon said about the team's turn-around in the match. "I have a lot of freshmen and sophomores out there and they were scared. They were very tight. Finally, after the end of the second game they started to loosen up and started playing our game. They quit worrying about making mistakes and worrying about what Westfield was doing and just played."

UMass-Boston will play Williams at Tufts in the New England Regional Semifinals of the 2009 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship on Friday afternoon at 4:30 pm.