WESTON, Mass. – No. 1 Regis College defeated No. 3 Newbury College, 3-1, to capture their first New England Collegiate Conference Championship in women's volleyball on Saturday afternoon in Weston, Mass. The Pride used set scores of 25-21, 25-27, 27-25, and 25-18 in the victory.
Regis (24-8) has earned the automatic bid into next week's NCAA Tournament, with the selection show scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on NCAA.com. Newbury wraps up its season at 17-11 overall and awaits word on a possible tournament bid of their own next week.
The Pride were led by NECC Tournament MVP Kristina del Rey (Miami, Fla.), who posted 14 kills, eight digs, and three blocks in the win over the Nighthawks. Joining her on the All-Tournament Team was the freshman duo of Nicole Connolly (San Mateo, Calif.) and Gracie Molinari (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). Connolly had eight kills and 10 digs, while Molinari posted a game-high 17 kills to fuel the Pride attack.
Newbury was represented on the All-Tournament Team by Courtney Banks (Corona, Calif.) and Maya Umoren (Quincy, Mass.). Umoren led the Newbury attack with 14 kills, five digs, and a pair of blocks against Regis, while Courtney Banks followed up a career-best 29 kills in the Semifinals, with six kills, three aces, 12 digs, and a pair of blocks. Daniel Webster's Maggie Belli and Lesley University's Ciara Bruning rounded out the All-Tournament Team.
In the opening game, Newbury jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, before Regis rallied to take an 11-9 advantage on a pair of del Rey kills. Courtney Mosher (Taunton, Mass.) extended the Pride lead to 16-11, and two-straight errors by Newbury gave the Pride their largest lead of the set at 20-14, leading to a Newbury timeout. The Nighthawks made a late push, getting within three points, but Gracie Molinari ended the game with a kill to stake the Pride to a 1-0 advantage.
Set two was a back-and-forth battle as the game was tied at 14-14 following a Lindsey Clark (Venice, Fla.) kill. A Connolly kill followed by a Shay Faber (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) ace staked the Pride to a short-lived 16-14 lead, before a 4-0 run by Newbury gave the visitor's an 18-16 lead. Regis battled back to tie it at 18-all, but Newbury scored three-straight points to make it 21-18. Regis cut the deficit to one on a Molinari kill, and eventually tied the match at 22-22 after two more kills from the freshman.
Newbury jumped back on top 23-22 on a Kataya Sykes (Brockton, Mass.) kill, but Molinari answered back for Regis with one of her own. After the two teams traded points, Faber tied the game at 25-all with a kill. Newbury took a 26-25 advantage on a Courtney Banks solo block, and then Lina Miranda (Brockton, Mass.) nailed a kill to even the match at one game apiece with the 27-25 win.
The Nighthawks carried the momentum into game three, scoring the first five points of the set to take a 5-0 lead. As they had done all day, Regis fought its way back into the match and tied it at 10-all on a Newbury error. The two teams traded points over the next services before Regis grabbed their first lead of the game at 15-14 on another Newbury error.
After Regis took an 18-16 lead, Newbury battled back and grabbed a 22-21 edge on a Miranda kill that forced a Regis time out. Miranda's solo block a few plays later made it a 24-22 lead for Newbury and they were one point away from taking a 2-1 lead in the match. Shay Faber had the answer for Regis as she posted a kill and then recorded a service ace to tie the match at 24-all. A Pride error gave Newbury a 25-24 lead, but three-straight errors from the Nighthawks ended the game and gave Regis the 27-25 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
The third game started out all Regis as the hosts took a commanding 13-5 lead following a Sara Casullo (Little Falls, N.Y.) service ace. Newbury answered with a 10-2 run to tie the game at 15-all as Lina Miranda served an ace following a Regis timeout. This time the Pride responded with three-straight points on a Courtney Mosher block, Molinari kill, and Tina Lathrop (Houston, Texas) service ace, to take an 18-15 lead.
Maya Umoren stopped the run for Newbury with a kill, but the Pride rattled off another six-straight points to get within one point (24-16) of winning the championship. Newbury would make them wait, however, as two-straight errors by the Pride made it a 24-18 game. The final point of the match came when a Newbury serve landed just outside the end line and the Pride rushed the floor, earning a 25-18 win and their first NECC Championship.
Shay Faber posted a double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs to go with four service aces for Regis. Marilia Ramos (Chimbote, Peru) led the Pride defense with a game-high 17 digs, while Tina Lathrop added a double-double of 49 assists and 11 digs of her own.
Newbury's Lina Miranda added 12 kills, five digs, and a pair of blocks for the visitors. Kataya Sykes grabbed nine kills as well. Meghan McDermott (Hampton, N.H.) finished the day with a team-best 13 digs, while Lindsey Clark and Julia Leggett (Longview, Wash.) had 10 digs apiece. Heather Parish (Tucson, Ariz.) posted a double-double of 35 assists and 12 digs for Newbury.