BENNINGTON, Vt. – For the second-straight year, the top-seeded Southern Vermont College women's volleyball team is the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Champions after defeating visiting the No. 3-seeded Regis College Pride, 3-0, in Saturday's championship match at SVC.
The Mountaineers won with game scores of 25-16, 25-9, and 25-14.
SVC senior captain Danielle Healis (Escondido, Calif.) was named the NECC Tournament Most Valuable Player. She hit a sterling .833 in the championship match, recording 10 kills and no errors on 12 attempts. SVC head coach Josh Stokes said of his senior, "I couldn't have picked a better captain, volleyball player, and overall person. I'm going to miss her, along with all the other seniors."
In the first set, a big kill from Mountaineers senior Ashily Veliz (Los Angeles, Calif.) helped spark the SVC momentum as Southern Vermont went ahead 5-3. Solid blocking by Healis and a dump by junior captain Carrie Baltazar (Whittier, Calif.) helped the Mountaineers increase the lead to 9-5. Baltazar was on point with her passes all match, recording a match-high 25 assists on the day. Regis sophomore Olivia Foley (Andover, Mass.) and junior Vanessa Noesi (Puerto Plata, D.R.) each had three kills in the first to help engineer the Pride attack. SVC started to pull away, eventually taking the set 25-16.
Baltazar started service for SVC in the second game, helping the Mountaineers take the first eight points before a service error gave Regis the serve. Healis entered the set and immediately landed a strong kill to increase the Southern Vermont advantage to 13-4. She kept up strong swings to help the Mountaineers move closer to ending the game. A solid combo of freshman Sheilani Kaleopa (Riverside, Calif.) setting up senior captain Jessica Alvarez (Los Angeles, Calif.) led to the a final set score of 25-9.
SVC started the third set strongly, taking the first four points. Regis continued to battle, however, and a kill from Foley put the Pride on the board and able to start chipping away at the lead. Regis swung much better in the third, recording 10 kills and only two errors on 31 hitting attempts. Foley and senior captain Megan Pratt (Rockland, Mass.) landed kills and refrained from committing errors to keep the Mountaineers within reach.
Despite the Pride's efficiency, however, SVC continued to attack well, putting down 20 kills and committing only one error on 34 swings. Well-placed attack attempts and service aces from Mountaineer senior captain Alicia Manzo (Clovis, Calif.) helped SVC finish off the match with the 25-14 final game.
"Coming back from last night's performance and putting up the show that they did," said Stokes, "really shows how much they want to be in the NCAA's."
Southern Vermont senior libero Vivian Delgado (La Puente, Calif.) had a match-high 15 digs, while Alvarez led all players with 13 kills. The team recorded eight block assists, with Healis, senior Rita Hall (Temple Hills, Md.) and junior Elaine Guerrero (Garden Grove, Calif.) each having two.
On the Regis side, Foley and Pratt each accounted for five kills, and sophomore Marilia Ramos (Chimbote, Peru) helped set up the Pride attack with 18 assists. Junior captain Sara Gold (North Hollywood, Calif.) led the team with 13 digs.
Regis head coach Scott Wright commented that, "We had a strong performance in the playoffs and proved a lot of people wrong. I'm proud of my team and how we ended on a positive note with a lot of firsts for this program." The 2012 campaign marks the first time Regis has hosted a playoff match, won a quarterfinal match, and advanced to the championship with a semifinal win.
Joining Healis on the All-Tournament Team are teammates Alvarez and Manzo, Regis' Gold and Ramos, Newbury College's sophomore Sydney Fish (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and Daniel Webster College's senior Chelsey Crawford (Westfield, Mass.).
The Mountaineers now advance to the NCAA Regional Tournament next weekend. The regional brackets will be announced Monday morning.