BEVERLY, Mass.- Behind a career day from senior Callie Dolan (Westford, Mass.), Endicott was able to take down NCAA Division II foe St. Anselm in a five set thriller. The two teams split the first four sets as the Gulls took sets two and three before clinching the match with the fifth set victory. With the win, Endicott improves to 15-12 on the season while St. Anselm's drops to 5-12.
Outside hitter Callie Dolan put on an impressive offensive performance on the evening as she recorded a career high 25 kills in the match. Her 25 kills are just one off the school record of 26 that was set by Sara Moore '07 against Keene State in 2006. Dolan's career best effort came off 54 attempts and just nine errors in the five set thriller which gave her a .296 average. "It was good to have Callie back after a week and a half off with a small injury," stated head coach Tim Byram. "Her presence helped solidify our lineup and we clearly needed her contributions tonight."
Set one went to the Hawks 25-22 as the visitors came out firing offensively. St. Anselm hit at a .281 clip in the first set compared to just .125 for Endicott. Endicott put up 11 kills to the Hawk's 12 while the visitors made just three errors compared to the Gulls' seven.
The second set would be a complete role reversal as the Endicott offense caught fire hitting at a .333 clip while holding their opponents to a negative average at -.024. Endicott's line of 10-1-27 bested St. Anselm's 11-12-41 to give them the second set 25-20.
With the score knotted up at one set a piece, both teams would trade sets in the next two to see the match even at 2-2 heading into the fifth and final set. Set three would go the Gulls way again by an identical score of 25-20. Endicott's impressive offense cooled down just slightly percentage-wise but they were able to match the Hawks kill for kill while committing one less error. Endicott would finish the second set with a line of 13-6-39 (.179) as St. Anselm finished with a 13-7-43 (.140) line. The fourth set would see the teams flip the scores from the previous two sets as the Hawks would take the set 25-20 behind a strong offensive surge. St. Anselm cleaned up some of their errors from the previous set as they hit .209 in the fourth via a 13-4-43 line. Endicott stumbled a bit and although they still put forth 13 kills, they racked up seven errors on 46 attempts and managed to hit just .130 to force a fifth set.
The fifth set would be close all the way through as St. Anselm held a one point advantage at the switch up 8-7. After trading points to tie the score at 12-12, sophomore setter Alleigh VandeMerkt (Riverside, Ill.) found fellow sophomore Lexi Watts (San Diego, Calif.) for one of her eight kills to make it 13-12 Endicott. The Gulls would never look back as a tough Dolan serve would force an attack error for the Hawks and a double block from Watts and freshman Hayley Knapp (Valencia, Calif.) would seal the match at 15-12.
Sophomore Mackenzie Guerre (Carlsbad, Calif.) led the Gulls in hitting average as the middle knocked home 10 kills with only one error on 26 attempts for a .346 average. Guerre went a combined 7-0-15 in the third and fourth sets to solidify another solid night offensively. She combined her offensive efforts with six digs, two blocks and an ace for a 12.5 point evening. VandeMerkt ran an impressive offense as she tallied 50 assists in the win, an average of 10 a set. She added 10 digs and an ace to her performance to add to her team leading double-double total of eight matches. Leading the stellar defensive effort was freshman Erika Trudon (Coventry, Conn.) as she yet again led the Gulls with 25 digs. Trudon also recorded a match high four digs on the evening. Right behind Trudon defensively was sophomore Jessica Petrucci (Cape Coral, Fla.) and fellow freshman Lily Benabou (Medway, Mass.). Petrucci recorded 17 digs while Benabou nabbed 14 of her own.
Coach Byram summed up the match perfectly in saying, "We're young and we made mistakes early, but we were able to do what we have been doing all year long. We learned quickly, moved on and put those mistakes behind us."
Leading the Hawks offensively were two seniors in Kyla Gustavson (Nashua, N.H.) and Vivian Fitzgerald (Winfield, Ill.). Gustavson led the team with 15 kills as she added 14 digs to record her fourth double-double of the season. Fitzgerald finished with a line of 8-1-19, good enough for a .368 average which led St. Anselm. Setter Natalie Steinwart (Aurora, Ill.) also recorded a double-double performance as she registered 47 assists and 14 digs on the evening. Libero Melissa Jewett (Newton, Mass.) tallied a match high 31 digs in the losing effort.
With the win, Endicott is now off until Saturday when they travel across the bay to play North Shore rival Salem State and MCLA in a tri-match. The Gulls square off against MCLA at 2 p.m. and face Salem State immediately afterwards. Following the loss, St. Anselm is now off until next Tuesday when they play host to NE-10 rival St. Michael's at 7:30 p.m.