Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Elms College women's volleyball team wrapped up their winningest regular season in program history with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-18) win over host Lesley University Saturday night at the Nicholas Center.
The Blazers jumped to a 10-4 run in the first set as freshman Dakota Stewart (Victoria, Texas) served up two aces, and junior Rachel Magnuson (Miller Place, N.Y.) and freshman Hayley Castanos (Santa Ana, Calif.) notched two kills apiece. Elms maintained their advantage with aces from freshman Ayanna Meadows (Springfield, Mass.) and Castanos, and then a kill from junior Danielle Redding (Las Vegas, N.V.) doubled the Elms advantage to 16-8. Stewart sandwiched kills around an ace, and then junior Caroline Locke (West Springfield, Mass.) fired three straight service aces to wrap up the 25-13 win.
The Blazers pulled ahead 9-4 in the second set on a kill from freshman Hannah Pichardo (South Glen Falls, N.Y.), but the Lynx closed the gap to 11-10. Elms used six straight points to rebuild a 17-10 advantage, and then Meadows slammed four kills down the stretch to send the Blazers to the 25-17 win.
The Lynx held an early 7-5 lead over the Blazers in the third set. Elms pulled even at 9-9 on a kill from Pichardo, but Lesley regained an 11-9 lead on a kill from Kaylee Deluga. The Blazers regained control with a 8-1 run, paced by two aces from Pichardo and kills from Redding and Magnuson. Deluga added two kills for Lesley to trim the deficit to 17-15, but Redding and Locke tallied aces to create a 21-16 gap. Castanos and Pichardo delivered the final kills to secure the 25-18 lead.
Magnuson and Castanos led the Blazers attack with a team-high six kills each. Stewart registered her 16th double-double of the season with a match-high 18 assists and a match-high 11 digs. Locke served up a career-high five aces with four digs, while Pichardo added four kills, two aces and a block in the win.
DeLuga recorded a match-high 12 kills for the Lynx. Cassidy Wygonik and Anni Abbruzzese posted five kills apiece, while Wygonik snared a team-high eight digs.
The Blazers (20-9, 7-0 NECC) earned the top seed in the NECC Championship Tournament, and a first-round bye. Elms will be back on the court when they host the winner of the match between fifth-seed Bay Path and fourth-seeded Southern Vermont Friday at Picknelly Arena at 7:00 p.m. Lesley heads into the tournament as the second-seed and will face the winner of the match between third-seeded Becker and sixth-seed Mitchell Friday at 8:00 p.m.