New London, Conn. - September 14, 2016 - Thanks to a career-high 20 kills from Jennifer Donnelly (Exeter, R.I.) the Springfield College women's volleyball team grinded out a five-set victory at Coast Guard in its New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener on Wednesday night.
Winning by the set scores of 25-16, 25-16, 22-25, 23-25, 15-13, Springfield, which was once again receiving votes in this week's AVCA National Coaches Poll, improves to 7-2, 1-0 in NEWMAC play. The loss drops Coast Guard to 3-4, 0-1.
Donnelly was outstanding in the win as the sophomore pin hitter racked up 20 kills at an incredible .455 clip, eclipsing her previous career-high of nine kills that happened on September 3 against Westfield State. It also marked the first time since September 13, 2013 that a Springfield College women's volleyball player totaled 20 kills, the last instance coming when Tessa Smolinski '14 went for 23 versus Tufts.
Lauren Holt (Granby, Conn.) added 13 kills, hitting .391, to go along with three blocks and three aces, while Kayleigh Helgesen (Oceanside, Calif.) chipped in 11 kills of her own. The setting duo of Marnae Mawdsley (Bolton, Conn.) and Daniela Detore (Lake Grove, N.Y.) combined for 43 assists, while Anagabrielle Sanchez (Caguas, Puerto Rico) was credited with a match-best 17 digs and nine assists of her own.
In the opening set, Springfield used an 8-0 run to turn a 7-6 advantage into a 15-6 cushion thanks to five kills from Donnelly, who finished the first set with eight kills for the Pride. As a squad, Springfield pounded out 19 kills at a .412 clip and eased its way to a 25-16 win, with a Holt overpass kill sealing the frame.
Springfield benefited from five early Coast Guard attack errors to earn a 7-2 lead to begin the second set. The lead would balloon to 10 at 22-12 following a kill out of the middle by Maddy Reppucci (Andover, Mass.) and another Holt kill would provide Springfield with a 2-0 set lead following another 25-16 set victory.
A kill from Holt put the visitors ahead 5-2 to kick off the third set, only to have Coast Guard put together a 9-4 surge to regain an 11-9 lead. The Pride would battle back, seizing a 20-18 advantage on a big swing from Holt, but the hosts closed things out with a spirited rally, using a 7-2 burst to win the third set, 25-22.
Coast Guard carried that momentum into the fourth set, and thanks to 14 kills as a team on a .375 hitting percentage, grinded out a 25-23 victory to force a fifth set.
The Bears took early control of the fifth set, taking a quick 5-2 lead after a pair of blocks. Springfield didn't panic, and used a 6-2 burst of their own featuring two kills from Hayley Kmetz (Ardsley, N.Y.) to go ahead, 8-7, at the switch. The teams traded points to be tied four times, the last coming at 13 all, before Donnelly hammered a ball cross court that painted the line for match point. Following a back-and-forth rally, the Bears were whistled for an attack error to complete the match.
Springfield will return to Blake Arena for a NEWMAC showdown with rival MIT this Saturday beginning at 1:00 pm.