NEWPORT, R.I.- The Endicott women's volleyball traveled to the campus of Salve Regina on Thursday night for their Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) semifinal match-up. The Gulls had one thing on their mind and one thing only; pay back. Salve had gotten the better of the Gulls in their previous two meetings with the first meeting being in last year's CCC Semifinal match at Endicott. In their most recent contest, a regular season contest in Newport, the Hawks came out victorious in four sets. The Gulls, who are now 15-2 all-time against the Hawks, turned the tables on Thursday to win 3-1 and advance back to the CCC Championship match on Saturday against Roger Williams.
The first set would see the two teams eek out to a 7-7 tie before the Endicott offense would catch fire. The Gulls would receive error-less efforts from Mackenzie Guerre (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Lexi Watts (San Diego, Calif.) in the first half as the duo combined to go 8-0-15, with five of the kills belonging to Guerre. Senior Callie Dolan (Westford, Mass.) also played a critical roll in the offense as she blasted a team high six kills on 11 attempts with just one error in the first set as the Gulls would hit .310 to the Hawks' .209. The Gulls, who would establish a 19-13 lead before letting the hosts creep back in to tie it at 19-19, turned it on late to pull away and win 25-22 as a Guerre tip would seal the opening set victory.
The second set would see both offenses cool off considerably as the Gulls would fall 21-25 to even it up at one set a piece. Endicott actually held the slight advantage in hitting percentage, .098 to .094 but Salve's advantage in kills, 12 to 11, would prove to be the slight boost the team would need to even the match. The Gulls staged a comeback of their own in the second set as a hot Salve offense would power the team to an 9-18 advantage before Endicott would flip the switch. The Gulls would close to within 20-22 and 21-23 but would come up just short to let all in attendance (and online) know that at least one extra frame would be played.
The third set would read more like the first set as Endicott would use a quick start to establish a 7-0 lead and force Salve coach Lauren Parsons to burn her first timeout. The Gulls saw Alleigh VandeMerkt (Riverside, Ill.) go on a nice serving run that was highlighted by three Dolan kills, two Hawks hitting errors and an ace to surge ahead early. Endicott would then see Salve rip off a four point run of their own before trading points to see the score settle at 9-5 before freshman Erika Trudon (Coventry, Conn.) would step to the service line. Already playing great defense, Trudon used her serve as a weapon to go on a seven point run of her own to make the score 15-5 when she finished. It was Guerre's turn to put up three more kills of her own as Endicott would eventually lift the score to 21-8 before closing it out at 25-13. In the set, Endicott would hit .265 while holding Salve Regina to a pedestrian .059 average as the Gulls notched 14 kills to the Hawks' seven. At the conclusion of the third set, Dolan possessed a line of 14-3-37 (.297) while Guerre had 11 kills on 22 attempts with just one error (.455).
The fourth set would see Hayley Knapp (Valencia, Calif.) put Endicott up early as three of the first four points for the Gulls came from Knapp kills. Serving runs by Jennifer Duggan and Emily Lipinski would give Salve the 6-7 edge before an attack error would tie the match at 7-7. The two squads would trade points to see the score tied at 10-10 before the Gulls crept ahead by two behind another Guerre kill and Hawks hitting error. Endicott would force Parsons to take a timeout at 15-11 after the Salve offense couldn't get on track following two straight Duggan hitting errors. The Hawks would fight their way back to within one at 16-15 to force Endicott coach Tim Byram to take his first timeout to attempt to stop momentum. The Gulls would briefly regain composure and extend the lead to 17-15 before Duggan would go back and rattle off four straight serves to give Salve the 19-17 edge. Salve would falter over the next three points as Endicott would benefit from a Salve service error, hitting error and an Endicott ace to turn the table to be up 20-19. The two teams would trade points before Endicott would win a long rally to set up match point. Callie Dolan's swing that couldn't be dug up would give her 15 kills for the match and would send the Gulls back to the CCC Championship match.
VandeMerkt was masterful for the Gulls as the setter racked up a match high 41 assists on the night while nearly completing the double-double as she picked up nine digs. Libero Erika Trudon was everywhere defensively as she dug up a match high 28 digs, almost giving her the third 30 dig performance of her season while she also led with three aces from the serving line. Dolan's 15 kills came on 48 swings with a .229 average while Guerre was close behind with a 13-3-37 line for a .270 clip. Opposite Lexi Watts was third on the Gulls as she had arguably her best match of the season posting a line of 10-5-24 (.208) while picking up seven digs and three assist blocks. She tied with Hayley Knapp for the team lead in blocks. Tori McIntyre (San Diego, Calif.) was second on the team with 14 digs as Jackie Cone (Salem, N.H.) tallied 10 of her own.
Endicott now improves to 22-14 on the season and will travel to rival Roger Williams on Saturday for the championship match. Endicott handed Roger Williams their first loss of the season 3-2 on Homecoming weekend when RWU was undefeated and ranked #22 nationally.