WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State sophomore Shawna Crowley (Billerica, Mass.) hammered out 18 kills and was named Tournament MVP as Westfield State University won the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference women's volleyball championship over Framingham State by a 3-1 score at the Woodward Center on Saturday evening
Westfield prevailed with set scores of 25-10, 19-25, 25-14, and 25-20.
"I like the way we came back after the second," said Westfield State head coach Fred Glanville. "Ally (Rega) was making the right sets to the outside and Shawna and Natasha (Belardo) were hitting the ball well."
The Owls receive the MASCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament. Their site and opponent will be announced on an NCAA.com selection show on Monday at 12:30 p.m.
Crowley powered the Owls right from the start, finishing with 18 kills and a .385 hitting percentage, and added 15 digs.
"Shawna had her best game of the season, she's been coming around. She's the most improved player we have."
After a slow start to the year, Crowley has flourished in the second half of the season for the Owls.
"It was partly me," said Glanville. "I tried her on the right side, then moved her to the outside, then when we went to Framingham I decided to put her all the way around, passing and hitting, and she did terrific so she stayed there after that. She's almost a complete player."
In the decisive fourth set, Westfield State led 8-7, then scored on block from Brianna Starkey (Rockland, Mass.), then got a tip kill from Natasha Belardo (Springfield, Mass./Holyoke HS) to start to pull away. Westfield got up 15-8 and forced a Framingham timeout to regroup. Another Belardo kill pushed the lead to 17-8, before Framingham trimmed the lead to 17-10 prompting a time out from the Owls. Out of the time out Ashley Crowley (Billerica, Mass.) delivered back to back kills from the left side to push the Westfield lead to 19-11.
Shawna Crowley powered a pair of big kills to put Westfield up 22-16.
Framingham got a service ace from Deirdre Fay to cut the lead to 23-19, prompting another Westfield State time out.
Finally, with Framingham serving down 24-20, Westfield's Ashley Crowley (Billerica, Mass.) delivered a surprise two hand push attack deep into the empty left corner for the match winner.
Ashley Crowley finished with 13 kills and Starkey nine for the Owls.
Senior setter Ally Rega (Chelmsford, Mass.) finished with 47 assists, while senior libero Lizzie Taylor (Medfield, Mass.) led the Owls with 34 digs and served three aces Lynn Shattuck (Townsend, Mass.) added 12 digs.
"The defense was terrific today," said Glanville. "They were reading their swings and picking them right up. Serve receive, pretty much everything was excellent."
Westfield is now 14-16 overall on the season after a rugged non-conference schedule but the Owls ran the table against the MASCAC with a 7-0 record in league play in the regular season and finish 9-0 vs. conference foes this season.
Framingham was led by 14 kills from Brandee Thomas (North Kingstown, RI), while Hailee Sanders (Franklin, Mass.) added 10. Alyssa Caffarelli (Peoria, AZ) led the Rams with 25 digs, and Morgan Failla (Providence, RI/Classical) set 37 assists.
Framingham ends its season 18-12 over all after going 6-1 vs. the MASCAC regular season.
Westfield will be making it fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, all since 2009, and it's first since 2013, all under head coach Fred Glanville.