WESTON, Mass. – After dropping the first set, the second-seeded Lesley University women's volleyball team rallied to win the next three to down third-seed Newbury College 3-1 (25-27, 25-22, 25-23, 25-22) to advance to the third New England Collegiate Conference Championship match in program history.
The Lynx are 2-0 in the Finals Round and last won the conference title in 2010 when they upset No. 1 seed Daniel Webster College 3-2 (25-17, 25-17, 24-26, 16-25, 15-8). Lesley also claimed the inaugural Championship with a 3-2 (25-18, 17-25, 25-23, 25-20) victory over Elms College.
Newbury finishes their 2015 season with a 16-12 overall record.
Sophomore Kaylee Deluga (Dennis, Mass.) led the Lynx attack with 18 kills on a .361 hitting percentage and also chipped in defensively with 12 digs. Ciara Bruning (Centerville, Mass.) had 11 kills and two digs while Jess Reynolds (Londonderry, N.H.) and Danielle McDonald (Lilitz, Pa.) each recorded 13 digs.
The first set was a back and forth affair that saw numerous lead changes. Lesley built up a 17-14 advantage after a service error, but the Nighthawks came storming back to take a 19-17 lead with two kills by Lina Miranda (Brockton, Mass.) and a service ace by sophomore setter Marlen Reynoso (Springdale, Ark.). The Lynx took a timeout and responded by knotting up the score three more times before Reynoso set up Nighthawks junior Courtney Banks (Corona, Calif.) for the final two points to give Newbury the early 1-0 advantage.
The Nighthawks held the advantage midway through the second set before the Lynx strung together four straight points to knot the score at 14-14 behind the serve of Danielle McDonald. McDonald's clutch serving was key again later in the set as she buried a service ace to put Lesley up 23-22 and forced Newbury to take a timeout. After the stoppage, McDonald's serving prowess led to a Bruning and Deluga kill to take the set and tie the match at 1-1.
Lesley's momentum carried into the important third set as they held their largest lead of the contest 5-0 which forced a Newbury timeout. The Nighthawks wouldn't go down without a fight as they outscored the Lynx 15-4 to take a 15-9 lead. Courtney Banks secured three of the Nighthawks points with three kills and Julia Leggett (Longview, Wash.) made two services aces during the run. Lesley responded with a run of their own as they capitalized on four Newbury attack errors to take a 20-17 lead. Lesley led the rest of the way as they took the third set 25-23 and a 2-1 lead in the semifinals match.
The final set was like the opening set of the contest as it saw numerous lead changes early on. With the score tied at nine apiece, the Nighthawks outscored the Lynx 6-2 with Gabby Aldaco (Springdale, Ark.) serving and Courtney Banks making four kills during the Nighthawks rally. Newbury was poised to take the set before two attack errors and a ball handling error gave the Lynx a 23-21 lead and forced the Nighthawks to take a timeout. Newbury responded after the stoppage as Marlen Reynoso found Maya Umoren (Quincy, Mass.) for a kill that cut the Lynx lead to one, but a ball handling error and a kill by Kaylee Deluga clinched the match for Lesley.
Courtney Banks had a match high 21 kills and also was active on defense with 11 digs and five blocks. Maya Umoren had 12 kills, while Leggett had a match-high 16 digs and Reynoso doled out a match-high 43 helpers.
The Lynx will battle top-seeded Regis College for the NECC title and the conference automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Pride earned admission to their fourth straight NECC title match following a 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-11) sweep of fourth-seed Daniel Webster College in the first Semifinal tilt of the night.
Regis provided Lesley's lone blemish in conference play during the regular season as they topped the Lynx 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-14) on October 28th.
Release courtesy Regis College Sports Information