CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After dropping the first set, fifth-seeded Bay Path University stormed back to win the next three and upset fourth-seeded Lesley University 3-1 in New England Collegiate Conference First Round action tonight at the Nicholas Athletics Center.
The Wildcats will advance to the NECC Semifinals and battle top-seeded Regis College at 5:00p on Friday night. The Lynx see their season come to a close with a record of 9-15.
Bay Path junior Lauren Vallee (Bristol, Conn.) led the charge for the visitors with 15 kills, nine digs, one solo block, and a trio of block assists. Classmate Ashlee Connors (Springfield, Mass.) added eight kills and anchored the defense with a match-high 19 digs while sophomore Lexi Cears (Agawam, Mass.) dished out 37 assists to go with 17 digs. Senior Paige Marshall (New Britain, Conn.) and sophomore Taylor Heinbokel (Agawam, Mass.) finished with seven kills apiece.
Lesley junior Kaylee Deluga (Dennis, Mass.) paced the attack for the Lynx with a double-double of 18 kills and 11 digs, while swinging .359 and adding two solo blocks and one block assist. Fellow junior Sarah Hollis (Hudson, Mass.) slammed down a career-high 15 kills on a .312 hitting percentage while classmate Anni Abbruzzese (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.) completed a double-double of her own with 11 kills and a team-best 17 digs. Senior Vera Bednar (Helmond, Netherlands) dished out a match-high 40 assists while senior Jessica Reynolds (Londonderry, N.H.) and freshman Wing Li (Quincy, Mass.) dug out 16 and 15 balls, respectively.
Leading 10-9, Lesley would take control of the first set with a 12-6 spurt to extend the advantage to 22-15. A brief 3-0 run would bring the Wildcats to within four, 22-18, before a Bay Path error followed by a Reynolds kill and Hollis ace would seal the first 25-19 in favor of the hosts.
An ace from Bay Path senior Aaliyah Gordon (Springfield, Mass.) would give the visitors a 23-18 advantage late in the second before Lesley climbed back in with a late surge. A pair of Hollis kills sandwiched between a Deluga slam followed by a Hollis ace brought the Lynx to within one, 24-23, but the Wildcats would end the spurt and the set with a Vallee kill to even the match at 1-1.
Bay Path would seize the momentum from the second set and carry it into the third and open up a 16-9 lead. The Lesley offense would get back into gear behind the serve of Reynold and pull within one with a 6-0 run. The Wildcats would bounce back and use a 9-4 streak to close out the set and stake a 2-1 match lead after closing out the set 25-19.
Lesley would pull ahead early on in the fourth set as an Abbruzzese kill capped a 6-2 run to open play. The game of runs would continue, however, with Bay Path answering back with a 10-2 spurt to develop a 12-8 advantage. Bay Path would not surrender their lead throughout the remainder of play, holding off a late Lesley push, to claim the match 3-1 with a 25-22 fourth set victory.
The win marks the first for the Wildcats in postseason play since the 2011 season.