MEDFORD, Mass. – The Tufts University volleyball team defeated UMass-Boston, 3-1, during second-round action of the NCAA Division III Tournament Saturday at Cousens Gym in Medford, Massachusetts, as senior McKenzie Humann and sophomore Mackenzie Bright combined for 23 kills.
"Obviously, we are incredibly excited," said Jumbos head coach Cora Thompson. "It was the outcome that we wanted for tonight. We knew it would be a battle going in. UMass-Boston is nothing but an amazing team defensively. Offensively, they are incredibly dynamic and we knew they would make us work for it. We were planning on making them work for it as well, so it was a good old classic battle. We are thrilled we came out on the other end."
The Jumbos (26-3, 10-0 in NESCAC) will compete against Springfield (29-5, 9-1 in NEWMAC) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday at 1 p.m. in Cousens Gym. Springfield defeated MIT, (29-5, 10-0 in NEWMAC) 3-1, in second-round action Saturday.
The last time the Jumbos competed in the regional final was in 2009, when they defeated Williams, 3-0, in Medford, Massachusetts.
"I am so happy for (the players)," said Thompson of being back on the big stage. "I get to be here forever, but they have got four years. They got this year. I am so thrilled that they have the opportunity to compete at home with our fans and with our teammates. We have worked so hard as a group to jell and get to this point. This has been a focus for us, and we have had a clear vision of where we wanted to be."
The Beacons (29-5, 7-0 in Little East Conference) see their season come to an end, as they defeated Johnson & Wales, 3-0, in the first round Friday. The Beacons have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight years, dating back to 2009.
The Jumbos were led by a balanced attack, as the squad received strong performances from Humann (12 kills), Bright (11 kills), senior captain Elizabeth Ahrens (seven kills), freshman Brigid Bell (14 digs, six kills), sophomore Angela Yu (34 assists, six digs) and sophomore Katie Zheng (12 digs). The Beacons were led by senior Julia Murphy (seven kills), senior Pepper Baker (14 assists, seven digs), sophomore Christina Elliott (16 assists), sophomore Eileen Shi (eight kills, eight digs), senior Elizabeth Glavan (25 digs) and sophomore Rachel Maslach (seven kills).
The Jumbos took a 7-3 lead in the fourth set on a kill by Bell. The Beacons fought back, as they trimmed the deficit to 20-18 on a kill by Murphy. A kill by Shi cut the Jumbos lead to 24-22, and then Ahrens responded with the match-clinching kill, giving the hosts a 25-22 victory in the fourth set.
The Beacons raced out to a 7-2 advantage in the opening set on a kill by Maslach. A kill by Baker gave the Beacons a 15-4 lead. The Beacons won the first set, 25-20, as Glavan tallied eight digs and Maslach contributed with four kills. Freshman Kelly Klimo (15 digs) led the Jumbos in the first set with seven digs, while Bell and freshman Maddie Stewart tallied three kills, respectively.
Zheng posted a service point in the second set, which gave the Jumbos an early 6-2 lead. The Beacons trimmed the Jumbos' advantage to 15-14 on an ace by Shi. The Jumbos ended the set on a 10-2 run, concluding with a game-clinching kill by Bright, as the Jumbos took the second set, 25-16.
In the third set, a kill by Bright gave the hosts a 12-6 lead, and then later in the set Zheng posted an ace, giving the Jumbos a 21-9 advantage. The Jumbos won the third set, 25-11, on a service point by Bell.