Women’s Volleyball Advances in NCAA Tourney

A 3-1 win over Springfield College propels Jumbos to quarterfinal match on Nov. 17 in Wisconsin
“It was a great day to be a Jumbo,” head coach Cora Thompson said after the women’s volleyball team beat Springfield College, 3-1, in the Division III regional finals on Nov. 13. They’ll play in the NCAA quarterfinals on Thursday. Photo: Alonso Nichols
November 14, 2016

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With a 3-1 victory over Springfield College on Sunday, the women’s volleyball team moves on to the NCAA quarterfinals in Wisconsin later this week. Sophomore Mackenzie Bright posted a match-high 18 kills in regional final action of the NCAA Division III Tournament at Cousens Gym.

The Jumbos (27-3, 10-0 in NESCAC) now head to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where they’ll play Southwestern University (Texas) on Thursday (Nov. 17) at 6:30 p.m.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Jumbos head coach Cora Thompson. “I am so excited for our team. I think we have been battling all year against a really challenging schedule. [It was great] to put it all together on a day like this, in front of a crowd like that and against an opponent like Springfield. I could not be more proud of every single one of our players.

“There were a lot of highs and lows throughout that game,” Thompson said. “We battled through and stayed consistent. It was a great day to be a Jumbo.”

Bright was named the Most Valuable Player of the three-game regional tournament, with a total of 34 kills; she has 191 kills on the season.

“She is a phenomenal player,” said Thompson. “She really got out there. Springfield has a huge block. Part of our game plan was staying away from senior Lauren Holt because she is a great blocker, and I think Mackenzie did that really, really well.”

Senior captain Elizabeth Ahrens and senior McKenzie Humann were named to the All-Tournament team for the Jumbos, while Holt and junior Kayleigh Helgesen were named to the All-Tournament team for Springfield.

The Jumbos once again relied on their balanced attack, with noteworthy performances from Ahrens (11 kills, six digs), junior captain Alexandra Garrett (12 digs), sophomore Angela Yu (47 assists, eight digs), freshman Brigid Bell (16 digs, eight kills) and Humann (11 kills). Springfield was led by sophomore Jennifer Donnelly (11 digs, eight kills), freshman Anagabrielle Sanchez (15 digs, six assists), sophomore Hayley Kmetz (nine digs, seven kills), Helgesen (11 kills) and Holt (eight kills).

The fourth set was even, 13-13, on a kill by Springfield’s Donnelly. The Jumbos responded with a decisive 7-1 run, as they took a 20-14 advantage on a kill by Yu. The Jumbos scored five of the next eight points. Bright recorded the match-clinching kill, giving the Jumbos a 25-17 win in the fourth set.

In the opening set, the Jumbos raced out to a 7-3 lead on a kill by Bright, who tallied six kills in the first set. A kill by junior Rebecca Higgins of the Springfield Pride trimmed the Jumbos’ lead to 20-16. The Jumbos ended the set on a 5-0 run. Ahrens recorded the game-clinching kill, giving the Jumbos a 25-16 victory in the first set.

The Pride claimed a 13-12 advantage in the second set on a kill by Kmetz. The Jumbos responded with an 8-0 run, and a kill by Humann gave them a 20-13 lead. The Jumbos claimed the second set, 25-17, on a Pride service error.

In the third set, Bright’s kill evened the score, 6-6. The Pride answered with a 7-0 spurt, with a service point by senior Marnae Mawdsley giving the squad a 13-6 lead. The Jumbos chipped away, trimming the deficit to 24-23 on a kill by Humann. Helgesen answered the bell with a game-clinching kill, and the Pride won the third set, 25-23.

Trevor Wenners is an intern in the Tufts’ Sports Information Office.