NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The Lesley University women's volleyball team saw their season come to a close after suffering a 3-2 loss to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in a thrilling five-set match in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Semifinals.
The Trailblazers used set scores of 18-25, 28-26, 25-22, 22-25, 15-10 to earn a trip to the ECAC Finals where they will battle top-seeded Endicott College.
The Lynx end their 2015 campaign at 16-10, their second straight season netting 16 wins.
Lesley used a pair of Kaylee Deluga (Dennis, Mass.) kills to help the guests jump out to a 4-0 lead to open the first set and they never looked back. Late in the set, MCLA used a 3-0 spurt to pull to within one, 18-17, but the Lynx answered with a 7-1 streak to close out the first 25-18.
The Lynx would race out to an early lead in the second set as well as Emily Marden's (Fremont, Calif.) serve carried the visitors to a 5-0 advantage. The Trailblazers would claw their way back into the match with a 7-2 run to pull within one, 8-7. After a kill by Lesley's Ciara Bruning (Centerville, Mass.) and an MCLA error the Lynx would push their lead back to three, the Trailblazers answered by stringing together four straight points to take their first lead of the afternoon.
The teams would continue to go back-and-forth through the remainder of the set and the Lynx eventually gained a 25-24 set lead. The Lynx were a single point away from taking a commanding 2-0 match lead, but MCLA's Courtney Parent knocked down a kill to even the score at 25-25. Lesley would come within one point of a second set victory after a Deluga slam, but the Trailblazers would not go down easy as they came back to score three straight to earn the 28-26 second set win and even the match at 1-1.
The third was equally as tight as the two sides continued to trade leads through the midway point through the set. With the score knotted at 18-18, the Trailblazers used a 5-1 run to gain some separation from the Lynx before taking a 2-1 match lead with the 25-22 set win.
Lesley held a slim 12-10 advantage in the fourth set before taking advantage of five consecutive MCLA errors to take a commanding 17-10 lead. Once again, the Trailblazers had a run in them to get within striking distance. The hosts rattled off seven of the next nine points to come within a point, 18-17, but Lesley punched back with a 5-2 spurt before forcing a decisive fifth set with the 25-22 victory.
In the fifth and final set, the Trailblazers opened a 4-1 lead and never trailed as they downed the third-seeded Lynx 15-10 to advance to the ECAC Finals.
Deluga was excellent for Lesley as she posted a double-double with 20 kills and 16 digs while hitting .327 on the day on 52 attempts. Bruning finished one kill shy of recording a double-double with nine kills and 14 digs while senior Anthea Rathjens (Sudbury, Mass.) added seven kills and two solo blocks. Marden recorded a double-double of her own with 41 assists and 19 digs on the defensive side while sophomore Sarah Hollis (Hudson, N.H.) finished with five kills and 12 digs.
Allison Clark paced the Trailblazers with 20 kills and 16 digs while Angelica Perfido added 11 slams and 24 digs on the defensive side. Margaret Allen aided the offense with 11 kills and Brittney Pihl finished with 22 digs.