Camels win like they've been there before
New London - Early in it first-ever NCAA Division III tournament volleyball match, Connecticut College was battling nerves.
Once the Camels settled down, they played like postseason veterans.
They needed only 75 minutes to sweep Framingham State on Friday in their regional opener, winning 25-19, 25-14 and 25-15, before a packed Luce Field House.
After breaking a 15-15 tie in the opening game, the Camels began to control the match. They rolled in game two and pulled away midway through game three.
"We just were really excited to come out here and play," freshman Caroline Martin said. "This is such an honor to even be there. This is our first time.
"... The first game, we definitely were shaking out our nerves. There was a little bit of pressure. It's the NCAA (tournament). It's a big deal.
"We started to get into our groove by the second and third games."
Conn College (25-3) advanced to play UMass-Boston (18-11), which beat MIT, at 6 p.m. tonight.
With the victory Friday, the volleyball team became only the third Conn program to win an NCAA tournament game, joining women's soccer (1998) and men's basketball (1998, 1999).
"That's kind of shocking," coach Josh Edmed said. "It's been a long time for the school. We've had tremendous support over the last few years to allow our team to have this opportunity. I'm glad we were able to capitalize. It's nice for the college."
Edmed has leaned on a mixture of veterans and underclassmen during his program's run this season. Senior Rachel Schroff, the New England Small College Athletic Conference player of the year, dominated at the net, finishing with a match-high 17 kills.
Martin, a freshman outside hitter, also consistently delivered big points, contributing 11 kills and nine digs. In the third game, her kill capped a decisive run that turned an 11-9 deficit into a 24-14 lead.
Freshman Gabi Taylor served out the match.
"The results were what we were anticipating," Edmed said. "The process to get there was not as fluid as we would have liked. We survived for another day."
UMass-Boston will present a tougher roadblock. It disposed of a talented MIT (30-6) in four games, 22-25, 25-20, 25-13 and 25-22. The Beacons played a tough schedule this season, according to Edmed.
"They're a great team that's very well-balanced," Edmed said. "They have a diverse offense and they're well-coached. We're got a lot of work ahead of us to negate their strengths."
Friday's win should help the Camels feel more comfortable in the tournament atmosphere today.
We have a little bit more confidence," Martin said. "We're not too overconfident, though. We're really excited. We've really been preparing this entire season. If we go in confident and strong, we'll do well."
NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament
At Connecticut College
Bowdoin 3, Emerson 0
Springfield 3, Roger Williams 0
UMass-Boston 3, MIT 1
Conn College 3, Framingham State 0
Bowdoin (27-4) vs. Springfield (27-7),
UMass-Boston (18-11) vs. Conn (25-3), 6
Second round winners, 4 p.m.
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