WARRIORS ADVANCE TO NE-10 CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2008
Links: Box Score
WEST HAVEN, Conn. – After it appeared for a brief moment as though Friday night's Northeast-10 Conference Semifinal matchup would require five sets to determine a winner, the seventh-seeded Merrimack College women's volleyball team stormed back in the fourth set to put away sixth-seeded Stonehill, 3-1, and continue its postseason run by advancing to the NE-10 Championship for the first time in five years with a win on Friday night in West Haven, Conn.
Score: Merrimack 3 | Stonehill 1
Records: Merrimack (17-14) | Stonehill (18-14)
Location: Charger Gymnasium | West Haven, Conn.
How It Happened
After a dramatic, five-set victory in Tuesday night's quarterfinal round at Saint Rose, Merrimack once again stormed out to a two-set lead before the Skyhawks cut the deficit to one, setting up the dramatic fourth set.
The Skyhawks led by as many as five points and held a 9-4 advantage before Merrimack clawed to within a two-point deficit midway through the set. Then, after falling behind again by four (17-13), the Navy and Gold sealed a berth in the Finals with a match-defining, 7-0 run that pushed the Warriors ahead by a 20-17 margin and prompting a Stonehill timeout.
The Skyhawks would muster back-to-back points to claw to within one, but Merrimack responded by winning five of the final six points of the set, sending the Warriors to their first appearance in the league championship since the 2008 season.
Merrimack opened up the first set on a 4-0 run before an attack by Kirsten Arvidson ends the run. Stonehill managed to battle back within two (17-15) midway through the set but Merrimack finished strong and took the frame, 25-19. Juniors Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y.) and Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.) led the Warriors' offense in the first frame with four kills.
The Warriors came charging out of the gate, opening the set on a 2-0 run. Stonehill managed to cut the lead to two (6-4) before going on a 2-0 run to tie the game at 6-all. The Navy and Gold picked up the pace and extended their lead to 9-7 after going on a 3-0 run started by freshman Jennifer Cain (Melrose, Mass.). Stonehill fought back to bring the score within three (17-14) but it was not enough to stop Merrimack from finishing the frame on a 7-1 run (25-18).
Stonehill surprised the Warriors early in the third set after battling point-by-point with the Navy and Gold. With the score at 8-7, Stonehill slowly started to pull away with the match and Merrimack was unable to recover, dropping the third set, 25-17.
Heading into the fourth set, Merrimack held a 2-1 lead over the Skyhawks. Stonehill took an early 9-4 lead over the Warriors, before the Navy and Gold battled back to bring the score within two points (12-10). With the Skyhawks controlling the set, Merrimack went on a 4-0 run to tie the game at 17-17 before regaining the lead at 19-17. The Warriors rode that momentum and took the final set and match, 25-21.
Sheehan led the offense with 14 kills and seven digs, while Cain tallied her fourth double-double of the season, 10 kills and 15 digs. Gosselin contributed 10 kills, four blocks, and two digs. Freshman setter Tara Stuhr (Huntington Beach, Calif.) assisted 38 kills as well as chipping in 11 digs.
A Closer Look
- With the win, Merrimack will advance to the NE-10 Championship for the fourth time in program history
- Merrimack will be seeking its first-ever NE-10 Championship after finishing runner-up in on three separate occasions (2003, '07, '08); the Warriors did, however, win the 1999 regular season title
- Stonehill finished the match with seven team blocks, as well 42 kills and 38 assists.
- The Warriors tallied 53 kills and 51 assists, while posting a team-high .485 hitting percentage in the second set.
- Sophomore Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif.) chimed in with 26 digs.
- Delia Philips of Stonehill finished the match with a team-high 11 kills and 10 digs.
Tuesday, November 19
Match 1: #8 American International 0 | #1 New Haven 3 – FINAL
Match 2: #5 Franklin Pierce 1 | #4 Adelphi 3 – FINAL
Match 3: #7 Merrimack 3 | #2 Saint Rose 2 – FINAL
Match 4: #6 Stonehill 3 | #3 Bentley 2– FINAL
Friday, November 22
Match 5: #1 New Haven 3 | #4 Adelphi 1 – FINAL
Match 6: #7 Merrimack 3| #6 Stonehill 1– FINAL
Saturday, November 23
Championship Finals –
Match 7: #1 New Haven vs. #7 Merrimack – 5:00 p.m.
The Warriors are back in action, Saturday, Nov. 23 when the Navy and Gold face the top-seeded University of New Haven in the Northeast-10 Championship. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m.