BENNINGTON, Vt.- Southern Vermont College Women's Volleyball won the New England Collegiate Conference championship, Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers won 3-0 over second seeded Newbury College, at the Mountaineer Athletic Center, to advance to the NCAA Division III tournament.
"It feels great to be the first program since 2003 to make the NCAA tournament. I am so proud of these girls to be the first SVC Women's program to ever make the NCAA's," Head Coach Josh Stokes said.
In the first set, the two squads battled back and forth in the early goings. However, back to back kills from Mountaineer middle, Danielle Healis (San Diego, CA), along with a service ace from Alicia Manzo (Clovis, CA) pushed the SVC lead to 7-4. Manzo then went on a seven point run to give SVC a 12-4 advantage, which they held on to win the first set, 25-11.
In the opening set, Manzo had four kills and two service aces. Sara Hanna (Center Moriches, NY) kept the Nighthawks in the match with three kills in the first frame.
The second set was the closest, as SVC won 25-15. The Mountaineers opened a 4-2 lead before Newbury came racing back to tie the score at six. Again, two Healis kills and a service ace, from Cindyline Sevilla (Echo Park, CA) opened an 11-6 SVC lead. In the second set, Hanna again led Newbury, but this time with her defense, as she had five digs in the set.
In the final frame, Jessica Alvarez took control for the Mountaineers. Alvarez had seven kills on seven swings. She also had a block to give the victors a 9-2 advantage. Newbury made a late effort at 20-5, as they scored four straight, before an attack error ended the run. Soon after, Hershey Canta (Bataan, Philipines) served an ace to make the score 24-9. On the final point, Canta served again, but a Nighthawk error ended the match at 25-9 and sent SVC to the NCAA tournament.
NECC-Tournament MVP Joanna Hogue (Los Gatos, CA) led the Mountaineer defense with 18 digs for the victors as Alvarez picked 11. Alvarez had 12 kills for the match, as Healis had eight, Manzo had six, and Roxy Domines had five. Canta became the SVC All Time leader in assists with 30 in Saturday's win. The senior captain has 1320 assists in her two year SVC career.
"I'm proud of Hershey for not just being a leader but for being committed to the true meaning of a student-athlete. She wants to do nothing more than to better herself and those around her," the NECC Champion coach said.
Hanna led Newbury with a team high five kills. Talia Martinez (Malibu, CA) had eight digs for the runner-ups, as Regina Sibilia (Agawam, MA) had six assists.
Hogue was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates, Alvarez and Healis. Hanna and Lauren Watson (Denver, CO) were named to the team from Newbury. Nadine Harkless (Westfield, MA) represented Bay Path as Samantha Hill (Hudson, NH) earned All-Tournament from Daniel Webster.
"Every one of our girls is equally important to our success. I wish we could have named them all to the All-Tournament team," Stokes continued. "Cindy [Sevilla] is our glue. We haven't lost a single match with her on the floor this season."
Newbury ends its season with a 15-18 record overall as SVC improved to 31-2. The Mountaineers have won 51 consecutive sets, the third longest streak in NCAA history. SVC will await the NCAA selection show Monday morning at 11:00AM to see where and who they will play in the tournament.