Cambridge, Mass.— The Lesley University women's volleyball team ended the 2017 regular season with a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) record of 6-1. The Lynx earned the No. 2 spot and will be hosting No. 3 Becker College tonight's NECC semifinal matchup at 8:00 p.m. in Nicholas Athletic Center
Taking the No. 1 spot was undefeated Elms College sitting at 7-0 in conference action. The Blazers take on No. 4 Southern Vermont College tonight in the NECC Semifinals.
Senior Anni Abbruzzese (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.), senior Kaylee Deluga (Dennis, Mass.), and sophomore Cassidy Wygonik (Madison, Conn.) lead the team in kills tallying numbers within the three-digit mark. Deluga is going into tonight's matchup with 326 while classmate Abbruzzese is following close behind with 281. Wygonik collected 171 of her own this season adding to the team's total. Tallin Goldberg (Merrimack, N.H.) is leading the Lynx in assists with 646 while Abbruzzese dominates in digs with 302.
The Hawks swept Mitchell in the first round of the NECC Tournament, 3-0, allowing to move on to tonight's matchup. The last time Lesley and Becker faced off, the Lynx came out on top, 3-2. Becker took set one, 25-13 but the Lynx stole one back, 26-24, tying the game at one a piece. The battle was forced into five sets as the Lynx would fight back to win set four, 25-22, after falling in set three, 27-25. Lesley secured the victory as they took set five, 15-13.
On November 2, 2017, Lesley Athletics sat down with head coach Jim Ray, and the three senior captains; Deluga, Allie Charron (Barnstable, Mass.) and Sarah Hollis (Hudson, Mass.) to discuss how they are preparing for tonight's conference matchup. Full interview transcribed below along with the video:
"We are here with the Lesley Women's Volleyball Head Coach Jim Ray, and senior captains Kaylee Deluga, Allie Charron and Sarah Hollis. Congratulations on a great season, 6-1 in conference and the number 2 seed heading into the NECC Championship Tournament."
Q: Coach, Are there any specific moments during the season that stand out as turning points for the team, confirming that you were on the right track to achieve your goals?
A (Ray): Our team has been goal oriented all season long. I was just commenting to our captains that we have achieved almost every goal that we set out at the beginning of the summer right through the upcoming matches. I'm very excited about that and it just shows the testament to the hard work that the team put in this season. As far as turning points go, the last two weeks we've had two matches back to back. Both matches we gave up two sets to begin each match only to come back and win sets three, four and five. This shows a lot of resolve and determination that our team has.
Q: You open up semifinals Friday against a tough Becker team that you beat, 3-2, a few weeks back. What does your team focus on and do well as you approach this match?
A (Ray): Going into that Becker match, we suffered some injuries. During that match, we aggravated a previous injury so we had to change the lineup a little bit and alter what we were doing. We defeated them, 3-2, as you mentioned. Tonight at practice we're going to continue to stabilize our starting offense and defense. We're going to come after Becker with as much power as we can. Becker is a very good team. They have good blockers, they have a scrappy defense and a very good head coach. I think it's going to be an exciting game and I think we are going to prevail.
Q: Last question for you, can you talk about the importance of team leadership and how that has played a role in your team's overall success this year?
A (Ray): Well looking across the table, this team has wonderful leadership. We are saturated with seniors that bring a lot of passion and experience to the court. We have made tremendous strides going forward since our preseason. You couldn't have asked for a better group of captains and seniors to set the bar very high for the seasons to come.
Q: Allie, talk a little bit about your team dynamics or overall team chemistry? How do you think that has influenced your team's success this far?
A (Charron): Well I have to say our team chemistry is awesome! It has definitely changed shape throughout the season but no matter what it has been positive, motivating and super supportive. I think from the very beginning our team chemistry was based off of kayaking trips and events that we did together that really created a strong foundation for us throughout the season. We were able to get to know each other as people and not just teammates. This helped us on the court because we actually cared about each other as humans. As for the team dynamic, like Jim said, there are a lot of seniors so there is a lot of experience. I think this helped the new people transition to college volleyball which benefited us this season. This is going to benefit the team going forward as well once the seniors graduate. Like I said, I think what it comes down to is the fact that we care about each other outside volleyball. We hangout; we have dinner and do homework together. I think all of that plays a role in how we are and how are relationships are on and off the court. We're not just teammates, we're friends and we enjoy being around each other.
Q: Describe this next phase of your season and what are your expectations as you go into the NECC Championship Tournament?
A (Deluga): Our expectations for the rest of the season starts with our practice tonight and our game against Becker tomorrow. We have seen Becker before, we went into a fifth set match with them and we won. That night we showed up as the best version of ourselves and I think that is a huge part of our success this season. We have had five, five set matches this season, four of which we won. I think sometimes it's hard, like coach said, to show up in the third set when you're playing a really good team. At least we know that we have the resilience to fight back and get some wins. We know what we're getting into, we've played Becker before, they're a really great team. I think that if we work hard in practice and show up then I hope we do a good job.
Q: Sarah, what is the message that you are sharing with your teammates from past experiences of postseason play.
A (Hollis): This is my fourth time in the NECC tournament. Deluga has been there three times and Charron has been there once. We do have a lot of seniors and a lot of experience in the tournament. At this point in the season, it's do or die. There is a lot of pressure but point blank it's volleyball. We know how to play volleyball. It's the same game and the great part about it is that we've played this team before so we know what we're getting ourselves into. There should be no surprises. My message to them is just to play. We know how to play, play like you know how to play. Don't take into consideration what's going on around you, it's the same game it always has been.
Q: What advice would you give your teammates who are experiencing this for the first time?
A (Hollis): It is more pressure and it is do or die. If we lose, we go home and if we win we move on. It is a huge pressure that is going to be there. There's going to be more crowds, more fans, it's going to be louder. My advice to the teammates is to be confident and use everyone on your team as a fire and light it inside you. Go out there and do your thing!
Q: Awesome, thank you very much guys, and good luck tomorrow. Good luck tomorrow night, go lynx!