WALTHAM, Mass. – The sixth-seeded Saint Anselm College volleyball team outlasted third-seeded Bentley University, 19-25, 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 17-15 in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Northeast-10 Conference Volleyball Championship for its first-ever victory in the league's postseason tournament on Tuesday evening at the Dana Center.
Saint Anselm entered the night with an 0-12 record in nine appearances in the NE10 Championship and had never won a match at Bentley, while the Falcons were appearing in the tournament for the 35th time in its 37 seasons. However, the Hawks (16-11) survived a frantic, neck-and-neck decider to edge the Falcons (19-10) and claim a thrilling victory, which gave Saint Anselm wins in all three meetings with Bentley this season after entering the year 0-30 all-time in the series.
With the win, Saint Anselm will face No. 7 seed Southern Connecticut State in the semifinals at the University of New Haven on Friday, Nov. 17. The Owls upset No. 2 seed American International in four sets in the quarterfinals. The other semifinal will feature No. 1 seed New Haven and No. 5 seed Stonehill.
After splitting the first four sets, there was little between the two teams in the fifth set as well. The decider included 13 ties and four lead changes with Bentley's 6-4 lead serving as the only lead larger than a point until the final margin. Saint Anselm saved two match points, one on a Bentley service error out of a Hawks' timeout at 14-13, and one on a Katy Teets kill while down 15-14. Teets followed up her match-point-saving kill with another to bring up a match point for Saint Anselm and the Hawks closed out the win on a block by Amanda Williams and Jewel Hays on the right side to clinch the historic victory.
Teets paced Saint Anselm with 18 kills, 11 digs and four aces while hitting .265 in the match. Catherine McCarthy hit .271 with 17 kills and eight digs, while Madison Sollows added 11 kills hitting at a .271 clip. Jewel Hays surpassed 50 assists for the first time this season with 57, three shy of her career-high, and also made 20 digs. Danielle Isbell had a team-high 24 digs and handed out six assists.
Bentley's Kirsten Segaline had 21 kills and 19 digs in the loss and was joined with a double-double by Shannon Kelly's 13 kills and 20 digs. Xio Lopp recorded 49 assists and Celia Cristofoli had 22 digs, five assists and three aces for the Falcons.
The Falcons hit a blistering .371 on their way to winning the opening set. After facing its only deficit of the set at 4-3, Bentley gradually pulled away midway through the set to take a 19-13 lead. Back-to-back kills by Sollows got the Hawks back within four, but that was as close as they would get in the set.
In the second, Saint Anselm limited the Bentley attack to a .053 clip to even things at a set apiece. The Hawks trailed 20-18 but went on a 5-0 run out of a timeout to take a three-point lead. Teets and Holly Manchester had kills to start the run and Hays followed the kills with an ace as Saint Anselm evened the match at a set apiece.
Four-consecutive kills by McCarthy helped put the Hawks on top 9-5 early in the fourth, but the Falcons responded with an 11-3 run to take a 16-12 advantage. Saint Anselm outscored Bentley 13-4 the rest of the set, however, to go up two sets to one, using a pair of late aces from Nia Bridges to take command.
Saint Anselm surged to an 11-7 lead near the midway point of the fourth following three kills from Teets in the span of four points. Out of a timeout, Bentley went on a 7-1 run on the Kelly serve to grab the lead. Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the set until the Falcons won the final three points to send the match the distance.