WESTON, Mass. – Lesley University's remarkable season and New England Collegiate Conference postseason run came to a close tonight in a grueling 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-22, 26-24) Semifinal loss to Newbury College tonight at Regis College. The Lynx wrap up their historic season at 16-5 while the Nighthawks, who avenged a 3-2 loss to the Lynx in the regular season, move to 17-10 and will battle Regis College for the NECC Championship on Saturday.
Lynx freshman Ciara Bruning (Centerville, Mass.) led the second-seeded Lynx with a career-best 18 kills, swinging a match-high .457, while classmate Anni Abbruzzese (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.) finished with nine kills on the night. Junior Emily Marden (Fremont, Calif.) set up the offense with a team-high 37 assists while Danielle McDonald (Lilitz, Pa.) anchored the defense with 23 digs. Senior Danielle Johnson (Waterford, Conn.) chipped in with seven kills and 14 digs while junior Jess Reynolds (Londonderry, N.H.) finished with five kills.
Newbury sophomore Courtney Banks (Corona, Calif.) led all players with 29 kills while swinging .457 on the night while freshman Maya Umoren (Quincy, Mass.) finished with 11 kills for the third-seeded Nighthawks. Freshman Heather Parish (Tucson, Ariz.) dished out a match-high 49 assists while senior Meghan McDermott (Hampton, N.H.) dug out a match-high 24 balls.
The match was tightly contested throughout the night. Lesley led 16-14 in the first before Newbury took advantage of four straight Lynx errors to jump ahead 18-16 and never trailed again in the set as a Banks kills sealed the first 25-20.
A kill by Newbury sophomore Kylie Kowalski (Wrightstown, N.J.) gave the Nighthawks a 20-17 edge late in the second before Lesley rallied for three in a row to even things at 20-20. Banks lifted the Nighthawks to a 24-23 lead with her fifth kill of the set, but Bruning answered with three straight kills of her own following a Lynx timeout to give Lesley the 26-24 set win to tie the match at 1-1.
The Nighthawks raced out to a 6-1 edge to start the third, but the Lynx chipped away and grabbed a 17-16 lead following a Reynolds kill and Newbury attack error. The teams would continually exchange points before a Johnson kill gave Lesley a 22-21 lead, but Newbury answered with four straight to close out the set 25-22.
The fourth and final set was close throughout as neither team was able to pull ahead by more than three. Lesley trailed 22-21 late before consecutive Abbruzzese kills and a Newbury error gave the Lynx a 24-23 edge, but Newbury answered once again with a 3-0 spurt powered by a pair of Umoren kills before Banks capped the night with her 29th kill of the match to send Newbury to the NECC Championship.
The Lynx will wait on a possible postseason bid next week.