SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Led by a match-best 11 kills from senior Sara DePouw (Oconto, Wis.), the Bryant University volleyball team solidified its spot in the 2016 Northeast Conference Tournament with a 3-0 win over St. Francis Brooklyn Sunday at the Chace Athletic Center on Senior Day.
DePouw's performance paced the Bulldogs (18-13, 9-3 NEC) to their second-consecutive postseason berth, while the senior got help leading the offense from rookie sparkplug Sydney Gorski (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) (9 kills). Hard-hitting junior Kiley Robbins (Garland, Texas) came into the final set to record six kills in seven swings without a single error, while senior setter Vika Katzen (Kfar Saba, Israel) added six of her own with a match-best 22 assists.
Sophomore Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) added 13 assists (3 kills) but was most impressive on the serve with five aces, while junior libero Erica Vendituoli (Nashua, N.H) paced the contest with 15 digs.
Niehely Sosa totaled 10 kills for the Terriers (8-20, 3-9) and added three blocks, while Aleksandra Gligoric chipped in seven kills with three stuffs. Sidney Benson was stellar at the net, involved in seven of the team's 10 blocks, while Domenique Gerard added four stuffs with five kills. Milica Mladjenovic dished out 20 helpers.
Sperry kickstarted the Bulldogs with back-to-back aces early in the first for a 7-4 edge, but the Terriers would make it a battle, tying the score five times in the frame. The visitors would never manage to take back the lead, though, and four-straight St. Francis Brooklyn errors would put the Bulldogs on top, 17-12. And while Bryant would need four tries at set point, Gorski finally hammered home the setup from Katzen for the 25-19 victory.
The Bulldogs edged out in front early in the second as well, but the Terriers kept the home side within five points for most of the frame. Coming out of its second timeout, St. Francis Brooklyn would score three-straight points to close a five-point gap to two, 20-18, but the visitors wouldn't score another point in the 25-18 final capped off by a DePouw kill.
A 10-6 Terrier lead was closed to just one by a DePouw point early in the third, but Bryant would not get even in the set until the 15-15 mark, when Robbins put down her first kill of the match. It was part of a five-point run to an 18-15 advantage, and Bryant would score the final six points of the afternoon – including consecutive aces from Sperry – for the 25-18 win and 3-0 match victory.
As a unit, the Bulldogs hit .250, out-killing the Terriers, 44-25. Bryant saw nine aces from its ranks to St. Francis Brooklyn's two. The Black and Gold were out-blocked, 10-3.
The Bulldogs will now battle for placement in the four-team postseason tournament, playing in their final weekend of regular-season action next Saturday and Sunday against Sacred Heart and FDU. The NEC Tournament will take place at the site of the highest seed Nov. 19-20.