BEVERLY, Mass. – The second-seeded Endicott men's volleyball team (23-6) is set to host third-seeded Nichols (17-9) on Thursday night at 7 PM in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Tournament semifinal round at MacDonald Gymnasium. Here's a preview of Thursday's playoff matchup.
SERIES HISTORY: Endicott, ranked No. 12 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-15 national poll, enters Thursday's contest with a 2-0 record against Nichols in the all-time series. The Gulls defeated Nichols, 3-0, in the first-ever meeting between the two programs on February 28, 2019, and backed that up with another 3-0 triumph on March 9.
SCOUTING ENDICOTT: The Gulls are 8-1 at home this season and have three out of their last five matches.
Endicott's lineup features the reigning two-time NECC Defensive Player of the Year Ryan Healy (Fair Lawn, N.J.).
The Gulls rotation is also highlighted by All-Conference first team selections Bryn Lipton (Rockford, Ill.), Donovan Dey (Fairport, N.Y.), and Jeremy Doski (Sandy Hook, Conn.), as well as All-Conference second team honoree Seth Braquet (Destrehan, La.).
National team rankings for Endicott include the following: aces per set (4th, 2.40), assists per set (17th, 11.18), blocks per set (53rd, 1.61), digs per set (35th, 10.11), hitting percentage (1st, 0.320), kills per set (16th), 12.11), opponent hitting percentage (14th, .135).
SCOUTING NICHOLS: The first-year program has been excellent out of the gate and sports a four-match winning streak headed into Thursday's contest.
Individually, Lance Law (Taunton, Mass.) highlights the Bison as the freshman right side was named the NECC Rookie of the Year earlier this week. Law, who received NECC Rookie of the Week honors five times this season, is averaging 3.27 kills per set (255 total), alongside a .276 hitting percentage and 1.36 digs per set (106 total).
Meanwhile, teammate Ray Wang (Chengdu, China) was named to the NECC All-Conference second team behind the following stats: 3.56 kills per set (242 total), .318 hitting percentage, 0.66 service aces per set (45 total), 1.54 digs per set (105).
Nationally, Nichols ranks second in aces per set (2.57), No. 56 in assists per set (9.85), No. 50 in digs per set (9.85), No. 24 in hitting percentage (0.253), and No. 56 in kills per set (10.63).
The winner of tonight's match will play the winner of No. 4 Eastern Nazarene and No. 1 Elms in the NECC Championship on Saturday, April 13 at the highest remaining seed (time to be determined).