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Bulldogs fight for postseason berth in final home weekend of regular season, celebrate Senior Day Sunday

Photo by DSPics.com
Photo by DSPics.com
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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – In its final home weekend of Northeast Conference regular-season action, the Bryant University volleyball team will look to solidify a place in the postseason, hosting LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn at the Chace Athletic Center Saturday and Sunday.

Currently knotted in a three-way tie for second place in the league standings, the Bulldogs (16-13, 7-3 NEC) will see that deadlock snapped Saturday when they host the Blackbirds (10-13, 7-3) at 5:00 p.m. LIU Brooklyn won the previous matchup between the sides, 3-1, back on Oct. 15 in New York.

Currently on the outside looking in but with a potential path to the postseason, the Terriers (8-18, 3-7) come to Smithfield Sunday at 3 p.m. looking to spoil Bryant's Senior Day celebrations.

The Bulldogs will rely on their seniors' leadership and poise with just four matches to go in the regular season, but the team as a whole has been hot as of late, posting a 6-3 mark in October while also riding a three-match winning streak dating back to Oct. 22.

Over those last three matches, the Black and Gold have been led by the hard-hitting play of Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) and Sara DePouw (Oconto, Wis.), who total 50 (3.85/set) and 45 (3.46/set) kills, respectively. Opposing defenses have struggled to limit Flynn all year, as the sophomore averages three kills per frame on the season as a whole (240 kills).

Defensively, rookie Ava Patterson (Danville, Calif.) and sophomore Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) have teamed up well on the block with 11 and 10 stuffs, respectively, over the team's currently winning stretch, while junior Erica Vendituoli (Nashua, N.H.) is averaging 4.85 digs per stanza (63).

But the Bulldogs will have to contend with an equally hot Blackbird side Saturday night, as LIU Brooklyn has won four of its last five outings. The Blackbirds are led by a pair of players who have topped the 200-kill mark on the season in Alex Lilliquist (207) and Alex Larsen (225), while two more contribute at least 100 kills.

Amanda Hubbard runs the offense, having dished out 674 assists for a league-high 9.11 helpers per set, while Natalia Rivera paces the defense with 408 digs (5.23/set). Three players boast 50 blocks or more, led by 62 from Filippa Hansson.

The Terriers will need to sweep their final four outings for a chance at a postseason berth, and they will rely on the play of top offensive threats Domenique Gerard (271 kills) and Aleksandra Gligoric (207) to guide them on that path.

Macy Kurtz (451 assists) and Angela Hudelson (355) have shared setting duties this season, while three players all boast at least 220 digs, led by 253 from Gerard. Niehely Sosa leads St. Francis Brooklyn on the block with 92 (162 kills).

Both of the weekend matches can be seen live on NECFrontRow.com, as the Bulldogs celebrate 2016 Senior Day Sunday afternoon.