SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – Led by a dominant effort in the third set, the Springfield College volleyball team powered its way to a 3-0 (25-20, 28-26, 25-17) victory over Mount Holyoke College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Tuesday evening. With the win, the Pride improve to 17-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play, while the Lyons slip to 9-11 and 0-8 in the NEWMAC.
Mount Holyoke jumped out to an early 11-5 lead in the first set, aided by four straight service aces from junior utility Kaleen Iwema (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township), but the visiting Pride quickly answered and tied it at 13-all on a kill by sophomore Kelsey McGayhey (Shelter Island, N.Y./Shelter Island).
Springfield grabbed that momentum soon after and opened up a six-point advantage (21-15) behind kills from McGayhey and first year Lauren Holt (Granby, Conn./Granby). MHC tried to pull back into the set as senior Martina Kneifel (Oro Valley, Ariz./Canyon del Oro) laid down a kill, but consecutive strikes from McGayhey closed out the set.
In the second frame, the Pride took an 8-5 advantage early but the Lyons capitalized on several errors and a pair of kills each from Iwema and sophomore Emma Sweeting (Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y./Hastings) to make it a 15-10 lead for the home team. Springfield battled back, taking a 21-20 lead after Holt and junior Molly Giannattasio (East Lyme, Conn./East Lyme) came up for a great block.
Mount Holyoke refused to quit and made it 23-all on a kill from junior Rebecca Bland (Durham, N.C./Carolina Friends School). Giannattasio laid down a kill on the next point and the two teams went back and forth to the very end until Holt muscled down back-to-back kills for the set win.
The momentum continued to swing in Springfield's favor in the third set as the Pride opened up a 16-8 advantage, including three kills from senior Tessa Smolinski (Hebron, Conn./RHAM). The Lyons closed the gap to five (20-15) on a kill from Sweeting, but late points from Giannattasio and Smolinski sealed the victory.
Leading the Pride was Holt, who had 10 kills and five blocks (3 assisted). Smolinski added nine kills and 17 digs, while McGayhey also had nine kills. Giannattasio chipped in with 16 assists and eight digs, while junior Whitney Miller (Cuba, N.Y./Cuba-Rushford) had 15 assists.
For Mount Holyoke, Sweeting posted eight kills, while Kneifel added seven kills and a game-best 18 digs. First year Natalie Lyon (Oakton, Va./Flint Hill School) had a game-high 17 assists.
The Lyons are back in action on Saturday when it hosts the NEWMAC/Little East Challenge, starting at 10am. Springfield heads to Texas this weekend for a tournament at Trinity.