DURHAM, NH - Junior outside hitter Jillian Ross notched 16 kills to lead second-seeded University of New Hampshire over third-seeded Northeastern University 3-1 in the America East Volleyball Championship semifinals at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, N.H. on Wednesday.
The Wildcats will now play at top-seeded Hofstra University for the America East Championship Saturday at 5 p.m. Hofstra made its way into the title game by defeating the University of Delaware 3-1 in the other semifinal.
UNH jumped out to an early lead over the Huskies and cruised to a 15-6 win in the second game and a 15-8 in the second game. UNH looked as if it would wrap it up in three straight, but the Huskies stormed back from a 14-10 deficit to earn a 16-14 win and force a fourth game. In the fourth game, UNH jumped out to an 11-1 lead, but again the Huskies stormed back to make it close before the Wildcats earned the 15-13 win to advance.
In addition to the efforts by Ross, UNH received strong performances from senior outside hitter Leisha Campbell and junior Kim Mirts-Poen. Campbell finished the night with 11 kills and a team-high 23 digs, while Mirts-Poen added 10 kills and 18 digs to the UNH cause. Junior setter Stacy Barnett registered 43 assists on the night.
For Northeastern, sophomore outside hitter Kristin Deatherage recorded a team-high 15 kills and 23 digs. Also notching strong matches were junior middle hitter Adrianna DiGregorio (11 kills) and freshman middle hitter Erin Spangler (nine kills).
UNH will be making its third straight appearance in the America East Championship game. Last year UNH defeated Hofstra 3-1 to win the league title and lost to Hofstra 3-0 in 1997. The winner of Saturday's contest earns America East's automatic bid to the 1999 NCAA Championship