CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Lesley University topped Elms College, 3-2 (25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-11), in both teams' New England Collegiate Conference women's volleyball opener Saturday afternoon.
The Lynx never trailed in their Game 1 win, overcame a 7-0 deficit to win the third set and led from start to finish in the deciding fifth set in taking the 3-2 win to open NECC play.
Lesley's Kayla Henry (Saratoga Springs, NY/Central Catholic) led all players with career-highs of 16 kills and 42 attempts, Kaitlyn Miller (Leesport, PA/Schuylkill) earned match-bests of 33 assists and eight service aces, and Rachel Frederickson got down for a match-high 23 digs. Megan Ortwein added nine kills on 28 attempts (.250) and 18 digs as the Lynx (3-8, 1-0 NECC) snapped a six-match slide in taking the team's conference opener.
For Elms, senior Stacey Croteau (Agawam, MA/Agawam) led the way with 14 kills on 40 attempts to lead all players with a .275 hitting percentage, pacing three Blazers in double figures with 16 digs. Christina Martin (Chicopee, MA/Chicopee) earned a double-double of her own with 12 kills and 14 digs as Elms fell to 5-11 (0-1 NECC).
The Lynx never trailed in the opening set, three times going up by as many as four points. An Ortwein service ace opened up a 9-5 lead, and a Blazers error put the Lynx back up by four at 19-15, forcing Elms coach Sheila Gisbrecht's second timeout of the set. Leading 23-22, Lesley closed out the set with an Ortwein kill and a Frederickson ace to take a 25-22 victory.
The momentum carried over to the second set, which Lesley opened with a 3-0 advantage with Miller at serve, but Elms came back to tie the set 9-9 and take an 11-10 lead on a Lynx service error. Four ties later, Lesley took a 18-16 lead on consecutive errors from the Blazers, but three Henry errors followed by a Croteau kill opened up a 21-19 lead, and Elms held on for the 25-21 win.
Croteau's club picked up where it left off in the middle set, jumping out to a 7-0 lead behind a pair of service aces from Jenn Rego (Fall River, MA/Diman). The Blazers took their largest lead of the day on a Croteau ace, after which the visitors looked poised to cruise up 11-2, but the Lynx responded with a pivotal run that turned around the set, as well as the team's six-match losing streak.
Four different hitters earned kills, including two each for Ortwein and Danielle Johnson (Waterford, CT/Waterford), over a 12-3 run that tied the set at 14-14. Two Elms errors later, Lesley led 18-16 and thanks to three Miller aces in a 5-0 run, the Lynx would never trail again in a 25-18 win.
The Blazers showed their perseverance in the fourth set, forgetting the 23-7 run the team allowed the Lynx moments prior, and getting two Croteau kills to get out to an early 4-1 lead. Gisbrecht's Blazers would lead by as many as six at 16-10 and never relinquished that lead, with Lesley hitting a match-worst -.182 as a team for the set, forcing a fifth and deciding game.
Miller and the Lynx bounced back immediately in a fifth set Lesley led from start to finish, with the junior setter Miller jumping her club out to a 3-0 lead on a pair of service aces sent the way of Elms' Anne Blanchette. A Johnson service error cut the Lynx lead to 7-6, but Elms couldn't capitalize, with three straight Blazers errors opening up a 10-6 Lesley lead, forcing a Gisbrecht timeout.
Out of the timeout, Miller's match-best eighth ace and third of the set was bookended by Henry kills that extended the lead to 14-10, and Miller's assist to Johnson capped a 15-11 victory for the Lynx.
As a team, Lesley hit .121 on the day, while Elms hit just .051.
Lesley returns to play in a non-conference match at Emmanuel Tuesday night, when Elms travels to Regis in NECC play.