Harberts Leads Volleyball Past Rivier, 3-0, to Advance to GNAC Championship

BOSTON, Mass. – First year Jarene Harberts (Naples, Fla.) smashed a match-high 15 kills to lead the second-seeded Simmons College women's volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-20) victory over visiting number three seed Rivier University this evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals at Moore Gymnasium in Boston, Mass. The Sharks win their school-record 12th straight match to improve to 21-9 on the year to set a school mark for wins in a season. The Raiders fall to 20-12. 

Simmons advances to the GNAC Championship match for the first time in school history and will travel to Providence, R.I. on Saturday, November 4 at 1:00 p.m. to take on top-seeded Johnson & Wales University, which downed fourth-seeded Lasell College, 3-0. 

The Sharks hit .238 for the match and overcame 18 service errors, while Rivier hit .069. 

Harberts hit .257 for the night and put down the winning kill in each of the three sets. She also added six digs and an ace for Simmons. Sophomore outside hitter Morgan Weeg (Goodyear, Ariz.) swung for 12 kills on a .250 hitting mark to go with six digs, a block assist and four assists, while classmate Kenna McCarthy (Shelter Island, N.Y.) set for a match-high 23 assists in addition to seven digs and a trio of aces. Senior right side hitter Amber Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev.) contributed with seven kills, two digs and an ace and first year libero Julia Fusco (Beverly, Mass.) picked up 12 digs and added two aces and five assists. 

Sophomore middle hitter Sunny Foglia (Remsenburg, N.Y.) led the Raiders with five kills on a .250 hitting mark to go with a dig and five block assists, while first year middle hitter Emma Soucy (Dunbarton, N.H.) put down four kills on a match-high .500 hitting percentage in addition to a pair of block assists. Junior setter Hayley Macken (Clifton Park, N.Y.) set for 14 assists, got down for seven digs and found the floor for three kills, while senior libero Bethany Trevino (Westminster, Colo.) picked up 11 digs. 

The Sharks hit .375 in the opening set, but Rivier got out to an early 7-5 lead. Simmons reeled off five straight points, including a pair of kills from Harberts to take a 10-7 lead. The Sharks later maintained a 16-12 margin, before going on an 8-2 run, paced by a pair of kills from Harberts to take a 24-14 advantage. The Raiders didn't lay down, scoring the next six points to close to within 24-20, but Harberts put down the final kill of the set to give the home team a 1-0 match lead. 

Rivier scored four of the first five points to take a 4-1 lead to open the second set. The Sharks responded with a 7-1 burst, led by a pair of kills from Weeg, to take an 8-5 lead. The Raiders knotted the match at 8-8, thanks to a pair of kills from first year right side hitter Jillian Rabasco (Nashua, N.H.) and the teams played close for the next 16 points to remain tied at 16-16. Simmons scored five straight points as part of a 7-1 run to take a 23-17 cushion. Once again, Rivier didn't back down, scoring four of the next five points to cut the deficit to 24-21, before Harberts swung for the frame's final kill for a 2-0 match lead for the Sharks. 

Simmons took an early 8-5 lead in the third set, before a 7-0 stretch gave the Raiders its largest lead of the night at 12-8. The Sharks answered with five consecutive points, including two kills from Weeg, to take a 13-12 edge. Rivier tallied the next two points for a 14-13 margin, but it was the visitors' last lead of the night as Simmons put together a 10-3 run, led by all three of McCarthy's aces and three kills from Harberts, to take a 23-17 lead. The Raiders stayed true to form with another late set push, scoring three straight points to close to within 23-20, but a kill from Peterson and the winning kill from Harberts sent the Sharks to their first title match.