BOSTON, Mass. - Sophomore outside hitter
Karissa Smith (Bristol, CT) was named Most Outstanding Player as
she led the Western Connecticut State University women's volleyball
team to a 3-1 (25-14, 21-25, 25-13 and 25-17) convincing victory
over intra-state rival Eastern Connecticut State University to
capture the 2014 Little East Conference Championship at Clark
Sunday's title victory was the sixth all-time for the Colonials and first since they capped off the 2003 season with their fifth-straight LEC crown.
Western earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III National Tournament, which begins this Friday, November 14. Sites and pairing to the NCAAs will be announced during the Selection Show at 11 am on Mondaymorning.
Smith finished to a double-double with 15 kills and 13 defensive digs for the Colonials, now 25-10.
"We are glad to do this for our seniors," stated Smith following the awards' presentation where she and the Colonials hoisted the coveted trophies.
The Colonials concentrated on their attack this weekend and it paid off as they hit 23.3% with 50 kills.
Jaqueline Kaunk (New Fairfield, CT) and Caitlin Van Camp (Redding, CT) added eight and seven kills, respectively for Western.
Third-year head coach Don Ferguson, mentor of the tournament's fourth seed, had praise for his entire roster.
"We raced out to a great start this season, then hit a couple of bumps in the road," noted Ferguson. "It was a difficult route to get here and it is a testament to how difficult the Little East Conference has gotten."
The Colonials, which defeated host and five-time defending LEC Champion UMass Boston, 3-1 on Saturday, avenged losses to the Beacons (3-2 on October 25) and Eastern Connecticut (3-0 on October 7).
"I give credit to the entire team," added Ferguson. "We have student-athletes that have taken back seats this season due to injuries and the accelerated maturity of our younger players and they are just as important to our success here and this season."
Heather Williams (Kingston, NY) finished with 11 kills and a match-high 42.1 hitting percentage. She also had four total blocks for the winners.
Sophomore Daniell Kaminsky (Southington, CT) patrolled the middle and dished out a match-high 40 assists and had nine digs for Western.
Nina Wojtkiewicz (Griswold, CT), one of five seniors on the Colonials' roster, recorded a match-high 29 digs for the Colonials, which will be making their sixth trip to the national showcase.
Adrianna Mihalek and Hannah Bryant led the Warriors with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
As a team, Eastern Connecticut hit just 8.9% with 43 kills and 28 errors on the day.
Allie Luppi led the Warriors with 20 digs while Nina Zimmitti added 13 rally savers on Sunday.
Allie Henry registered 36 assists and 11 digs in the loss.
Eastern Connecticut, the third seed of the tournament and four-time LEC title winners, evens its record at 17-17 and wait for word if it will get an invitation to the ECAC Tournament this week.