BEVERLY, Mass. – The second-seeded Endicott men's volleyball team (24-6) will travel to first-seeded Elms (28-4) on Saturday at 2 PM to take on the Blazers in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship at Picknelly Arena (Chicopee, Mass.). Here's a preview of Saturday's championship match.
SERIES HISTORY: Endicott, ranked No. 12 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-15 national poll, enters Saturday's contest with a 33-5 record in the all-time series against Elms. However, both teams split the regular season series this year (Endicott 3-1 win on 3/2/19 | Elms 3-1 win on 3/26/19).
The Blazers also come into Saturday's matchup as the reigning NECC champion after defeating Endicott in Beverly, Mass. by a 3-0 score last year on April 14, 2018. Overall, in championship matches, Endicott is 2-1 all-time against Elms dating back to 2013, which marks the start of George Chapell's '08 coaching tenure at Endicott. Since Chapell's arrival, the Gulls have won five NECC titles (2013-17).
SCOUTING ENDICOTT: The Gulls are 9-3 on the road this season and have won 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, 2.38), assists per set (16th, 11.27), blocks per set (53rd, 1.62), digs per set (35th, 10.18), hitting percentage (1st, 0.322), kills per set (13th, 12.20), opponent hitting percentage (11th, .131).
SCOUTING ELMS: The Blazers, ranked No. 5 in the country, enter Saturday's contest on a 13-match winning streak dating back to March 2. That loss was the only setback in the month of March for Elms, but it came at the hands of Endicott, 3-1 on the road. Along with their staggering winning streak, the Blazers also sport an impressive 10-0 record at home this season.
Meanwhile, Elms' lineup features the NECC Player of the Year Jeremy Torres (Juncos, Puerto Rico), NECC All-Conference first team selection Jovanny Torres (Juncos, Puerto Rico) and All-Conference second team honorees John Dunphy (Farmington, Conn.), Jake Johnson (Warwick, R.I.), and Carlos Mercado (Barranquitas, Puerto Rico).
National team rankings for the Blazers include: aces per set (49th, 1.56), assists per set (5th, 11.90), blocks per set (50th, 1.64), digs per set (3rd, 11.95), hitting percentage (6th, 0.294), kills per set (4th, 12.74) and opponent hitting percentage (1st, 0.094).
The winner of Saturday's match will represent the NECC in the NCAA Tournament later this month.
(Photo Credit - David Le '10)