CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- Coming off of a win over the #11 team in the New England region according to the most recent NEWVA Coaches Poll, Endicott knew it could hang with some of the top teams in the region and were out to prove it this weekend at the MIT Invitational. A 1-1 record on day one included a sweep of #10 MIT, the first in program history. On Sunday, day two of the tournament, Endicott was back at it again, finishing with another 1-1 record for a 2-2 total at the Invitational while raising their record to 4-7.
The Gulls fell in the first match on Sunday to Tufts. The loss came in a marathon five set match, the second consecutive five setter the Gulls have faced. The match held a little extra intrigue as there was a familiar face on the Jumbos sideline: 2013 Endicott graduate and second all-time dig leader Ashley Norley ('13). Norley was named as the first assistant at Tufts before this season began and the team knew they were in for a special fight at the opening whistle.
Tufts jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as they took the first set 25-18. Having played a five set match against Bates as the night cap on Friday, Endicott could have folded but the team showed great character and resolve as they stormed back to take the second set 25-14. The Gulls escaped with a narrow win in the third to take the 2-1 by winning 25-23. Tufts, currently ranked #7 in New England, wouldn't go quietly as they countered with a 25-19 fourth set win to force a fifth and deciding set. The Jumbos would prove to be too much for Endicott this time however and took the fifth set 15-7.
The Gulls were led by senior Callie Dolan (Westford, Mass.), sophomore Mackenzie Guerre (Carlsbad, Calif.) and sophomore Alleigh VandeMerkt (Riverside, Ill.) who all played key rolls in getting the Gulls to a fifth set. Dolan was the offensive leader again as she totaled 16 kills and 10 digs to finish with a double-double. Guerre hit at an impressive .348 clip while recording 10 kills and two solo blocks. VandeMerkt again captained the ship as she distributed 42 assists while picking up seven digs and four aces. Freshmen played a huge role defensively as Tori McIntyre (San Diego, Calif.) and Erika Trudon (Coventry, Conn.) finished with 17 and 16 digs respectively.
Match two saw yet another five setter that would be sure to test the Gulls as they took on Connecticut College, the #8 team in the region. Again showing character and resolve, the team dug down deep and pulled out a thrilling five set victory over the NESCAC foe. After falling in the opening set 25-22, Endicott would battle back to win two tight sets by scores of 28-26 and 25-22. The Camels would not go away easy however and came back to take the fourth set 20-25 to once again provide the dramatic fifth set for the Gulls. Endicott, proving they are quickly growing and learning, rode early momentum to victory and won the clincher 15-9.
The Gulls again got an outstanding effort from Trudon as the freshman set a new career high with 24 digs. Junior Jessica Petrucci (Cape Coral, Fla.), also set a career high as she provided the Gulls with 20 digs of her own. Offensively, Endicott was led by a familiar trio in Dolan, McIntyre and Guerre. Leading the Gulls in kills was once again Callie Dolan. The senior has now led the Gulls in all but three of the matches on the season as she tallied 16 in the match against the Camels. For her outstanding efforts in the four matches this weekend, Dolan was named to the MIT Invitational All-Tournament Team.
McIntyre again showed her offensive skills as well as her impressive defensive feel as she recordd her third double-double of the season in collecting 14 kills and 16 digs. Guerre was once again an offensive force as she knocked down 13 kills to surpass the double digit mark for the sixth time this season. Vandemerkt was once again at the helm of the offense as she posted 48 assists in the five set thriller. Hayley Knapp (Valencia, Calif.) and Jackie Cone (Salem, N.H.) tied for the team lead in blocks with three a piece.
With the win, the Gulls improve to 4-7 on the season and finally will kick off their conference schedule as they travel across town to take on rival Gordon on Wednesday at 7 p.m.