BEVERLY, Mass.- The women's volleyball team began their quest for the program's first ever ECAC DIII New England Women's Volleyball Championship on Wednesday as the third seeded Gulls played host to the sixth seeded Saints of Emmanuel in opening round action. The Gulls advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 sweep of the Saints and will now play the second seeded Western New England at their home site. Western New England is the host of both the semifinal rounds and championship round that will be played Saturday due to a scheduling conflict with top seed Salve Regina's gymnasium.
The first set would prove to be tight as Endicott would go up seven mid-way through the set before giving up a 10-3 run to see the match tie at 23-23. The Gulls would close the set with two kills by Lexi Watts (San Diego, Calif.) to take the first 25-23. Mackenzie Guerre (Carlsbad, Calif.) would lead Endicott in the first with four kills and a .375 average while Tori McIntyre (San Diego, Calif.) and Callie Dolan (Westford, Mass.) would all finish with three kills of their own.
The second set would see the Gulls jump out to a quick 8-2 lead while forcing Emmanuel coach Denitra Seals to take a timeout just 10 points in. At the time of the timeout, Endicott was hitting .500 while holding Emmanuel to -.111. The Gulls would continue their offensive surge as they maintained an eight point lead when Seals would takes her second timeout down 20-12. At the time of her second timeout, Watts had eclipsed the 10 kills mark and was hitting. 529 with a line of 10-1-17. Following the timeout, Endicott used great ball control and serving to nullify the Saints offense while feeding Guerre in the middle as she three straight kills to close the set at 25-15 in favor of Endicott. At the conclusion of the set, Guerre had recorded 11 kills on 19 attempts for a .474 average as Alleigh VandeMerkt (Riverside, Ill.) had already recorded 28 assists to go along with two service aces. Erika Trudon (Coventry, Conn.) led the defense with 10 digs and three aces.
In the third set, the Gulls would find themselves in a fight until roughly half way through the set as the score would sit tied at 14-14. From that point on, Endicott would go on an 11-3 run to close the set with a 25-17 win and finish the 3-0 sweep of the Saints. During that 11-3 run, Endicott received three kills from Tori McIntyre to lead the charge. The match ended with a Callie Dolan and Hayley Knapp (Valencia, Calif.) block, the team's third team block of the match.
The Gulls were led by Guerre's match high 16 kills and .519 average as the sophomore middle recorded her kills on just 27 attempts with two errors. Close behind her was fellow sophomore Lexi Watts with 11 kills. The opposite racked up her 11 kills on just 23 attempts as she hit .391 to go along with five digs. Callie Dolan and Tori McIntyre also had impressive offensive evenings as Dolan tallied 10 kills while hitting .250 and McIntyre finished with seven kills, a .294 average and seven digs. Alleigh VandeMerkt set a fantastic match as she orchestrated the team's offense brilliantly. The setter notched 43 assists and chipped in with two aces as she guided the team to a .298 average. Freshman libero Erika Trudon was dominant defensively as she finished the victory with a match high 22 digs and four aces.
For the Saints, opposite Sarah Colby (West Barnstable, Mass.) had a great offensive showing as she finished with the team high in kills with eight and average with a .471 clip. Her average was a result of her eight kills coming on 17 errorless swings. Setter Shannon Dudley (Morro Bay, Calif.) picked up 22 assists in the setback and also chipped in with eight digs defensively. Outside Cassie Chruscielski (Duluth, Minn.) had a solid all-around match as she finished second on the team in kills with seven and first on the team in digs with 10. Freshman Kaitlyn Atkinson (Brookline, N.H.) put forth an impressive blocking performance as the middle finished with two solo blocks and two assist blocks to go with six kills.
With the win, Endicott improves to 23-15 and will now face #2 Western New England in a rematch of their regular season contest in which Endicott lost in five. Emmanuel closes their season with a 23-14 record overall, an improvement of nine wins and four less losses from 2012's 14-18 campaign. In other ECAC action, #1 Salve Regina swept #8 Emerson, #2 WNE swept #7 UNE, and #4 Smith swept #5 Framingham State, to all advance to the semifinals.