It was sweet, sweet revenge on Saturday afternoon when the Springfield College women’s volleyball team was able to sweep the MIT Engineers in three sets, winning the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference semifinals 3-0 and advancing into the NEWMAC championship on Sunday.
In 2012, MIT ended Springfield’s NEWMAC playoff run after defeating the Pride 3-1 in the semifinals at Wellesley.
“Last year, the semifinal game for us was a nightmare. It was nice to get that taste out of our mouth,” said head coach Moira Long following the victory. “I thought we played very well, we had some huge points. Overall, I was very happy with the way we came out today.”
Posting 12 kills, sophomore right-side hitter Kelsey McGayhey paced Springfield, while freshman middle-blocker Lauren Holt wasn’t too far behind, tallying 10 kills of her own.
With a 19-17 lead in the third set, Holt teamed up with McGayhey for a block on MIT freshman Megan Gebhard, then turned around to knock down a pair of kills to put the Pride up 22-17.
I think we played great today,” commented Holt. “The passing and setting were both there for us and we were killing balls all day. I was happy with how I played. I can’t do any of it without my team behind me so I think we all did a great job.”
After a pair of kills from Gebhard and senior Kristine Bunker, MIT brought the score back to within three, but an outstanding individual effort from outside hitter Tessa Smolinski sent the senior well past the end line to chase down a ball in which Kerry Purcell eventually hit over the net to keep the rally alive.
Springfield went on to claim the point, making the score 24-20.
With the match on the line, junior setter Molly Giannattasio delivered a service ace to clinch the victory for the Pride.
“Tessa is so consistent, and she leads by example,” added Long. “That really rubs off on our team with how aggressive we can be and how confident we can feel. Tess is just fantastic.”
After taking the first set in dominating fashion, 25-12, the Pride went back and forth with the Engineers in the second set, until junior setter Whitney Miller placed a set just out of the reach of MIT’s blockers, tying the set at 22-22. With the momentum on their side, Springfield closed out the second set 25-23 after a kill from Holt.
“I think we came out really strong,” said Miller. “We have worked really hard this season to be able to get to where we are now. That really showed today. When we have a sense of urgency, like we did today, no matter what we will come out on top.”
The Pride will be taking on the winner of the match between the Coast Guard Academy and Wellesley College, taking place at 3:30 on Saturday. The championship match is set for a 1 p.m. start, back at Blake Arena