BENNINGTON, Vt. – For the third-straight year, Southern Vermont College is hoisting the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) women's volleyball trophy as the Mountaineers defeated Regis College 3-0 Saturday afternoon at the Mountaineer Athletic Center in the conference championship.
In a rematch of the 2012 Championship that Southern Vermont also won 3-0, the top-seeded hosts took the title with game scores of 25-17, 25-15, and 25-18.
The Mountaineers (12-8) now await the NCAA Regional Tournament seeding, taking place this week, to see where they will be headed for next weekend. Regis finishes the season with a 14-17 mark.
Southern Vermont's offense was led by All-Tournament Most Valuable Player Carrie Baltazar (Whittier, Calif.) who put down a match-high nine kills to go along with eight digs and two service aces. Pride freshman Kristina del Rey (Miami, Fla.) tied the contest mark with nine kills of her own while senior libero Sara Gold (N. Hollywood, Calif.) had another great performance on the defensive end with 25 digs, helping her to a placement on the All-Tournament Team.
Regis started out with high energy, taking a 5-1 lead early on in the first set. A service error gave the ball back to Southern Vermont, however, and the Mountaineers took advantage as they were able to tie it up with a four-point run. Attacking errors plagued the Pride while SVC limited its errors en route to a .333 hitting percentage in the set and the 25-17 win.
The Mountaineers did even better in not hurting themselves in the second set, only recording two attacking errors in the frame while putting down 13 kills on 29 swings for a .379 hitting percentage. Regis also did better with its attacks but could not recover from an early 10-4 deficit caused in part by two consecutive service aces from SVC junior Jessica Delgado (Los Angeles, Calif.). Southern Vermont continued to share the offense as it moved to the 25-15 game victory.
In the early portion of the third set, it appeared that either team was going to be able to take the point until Mountaineer junior Marissa Flores (Azusa, Calif.) stepped to the line and served for six-straight points including four aces in a five-point stretch. That would give Southern Vermont a comfortable lead that it was able to hold onto before sophomore setter Sheilani Kaleopa (Riverside, Calif.) shot across the team's 12th service ace of the match and the final point needed to keep the championship cup in Bennington.
Delgado finished with seven kills and seven digs for the Mountaineers, making her way onto the All-Tournament Team with teammate and senior libero Vanessa Ruelas (Paramount, Calif.) who had 15 digs on the day. Flores finished with seven kills, 16 digs and five aces, and Kaleopa notched 26 assists to go along with three kills and three digs.
Pride junior Jackie Silver (West Hills, Calif.) followed del Rey with seven kills to go along with five digs while senior captain Vanessa Noesi (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) put down five kills; Noesi was also named to the All-Tournament Team for her performance over the week. Junior setter Marilia Ramos (Chimbote, Peru) assisted on 26 of the team's 30 digs on the day.
Rounding out the All-Tournament Team was Newbury College freshman Courtney Banks (Corona, Calif.) and Daniel Webster College senior setter Ally Hayden (Bedford, N.H.).