Springfield Hands Blue Volleyball First Setback In Five-Set Clash

The Blue will play at No. 1 Springfield on Thursday at 7:00 PM (Julia Monaco).
The Blue will play at No. 1 Springfield on Thursday at 7:00 PM (Julia Monaco).

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Springfield College rallied from a two-point deficit late in the fifth set to hand Wellesley College volleyball the team's first setback of the season in a match-up between two of the top teams in the New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena.

The Blue are now 10-1 overall and 4-1 in the NEWMAC. Springfield improves to 15-2 on the year and remains unbeaten at 5-0 in conference play.

Senior Yasmine Reece (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and first year Nicole Doerges (San Marino, Calif.) tied for match-high honors with 19 kills each to lead the Blue. Senior setter Michelle Li (Scarsdale, N.Y.) dished out 53 assists and added nine digs, while junior Meghan Shoop (Elk Grove, Calif.) finished with a career-high 25 digs to lead the Blue on defense. Sophomore Lauren Gedney (Huntersville, N.C.) added 16 kills and senior Samantha Hoang (Elk Grove, Calif.) recorded 20 digs in the setback.

Senior Jen Donnelly (Exeter, R.I.) added 13 kills and 19 digs to lead the Pride to their fifth straight victory. Sophomore Camryn Bancroft (Eastport, N.Y.) put down 15 kills and committed just one error and junior Katie vonKampen (South Setauket, N.Y.) chipped in with nine of Springfield's 52 kills in the match. First year setter Sara Labadorf (Huntersville, N.C.) totaled 48 assists to lead the attack.

Springfield opened the match with a 25-18 victory in the first set but the Blue rallied to take the next two games, 25-23 and 25-22. Wellesley hit .351 in the second set and .293 in the third set to take the lead.

Wellesley could not carry the team's momentum into the fourth set, as the Blue fell behind 7-3 early. Wellesley countered with six straight points, taking a 9-7 lead on a kill by Doerges that forced a Springfield timeout. The Pride scored back-to-back points out of the timeout to tie the match and eventually went on to build leads of 18-14 and 21-18. Wellesley got to within one, when Gedney and Samantha Ostenso (Hopkins, Minn.) blocked an attack to make the score 21-20, but Springfield scored the final four points of the set to send the match to a deciding fifth frame with a 25-20 victory. 

No more than one point separated the sides in the fifth set until consecutive kills from Reece gave the Blue a 12-10 advantage. A Blue miscue and an ace from first year Ashley Tanner (Manorville, N.Y.) tied the match at 12, before Wellesley got to within one point of the win thanks to another Reece kill and a block from Reece and Li. Now one point away from defeat, Springfield would go on to score five of the next six points in the set, including the final three in-a-row, to take the match. A kill from Donnelly tied the frame at 15-all before back-to-back blocks ended the set, 17-15, and the match, 3-2.

Wellesley will return home in search of Head Coach Dorothy Webb's 600th career victory on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM when they host Clark. Springfield will welcome Smith on Tuesday at 7:00 PM.