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Bryant wins first NEC title with sweep of Sacred Heart

Northeast Conference/Larry Levanti
Northeast Conference/Larry Levanti

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Redshirt-senior Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) recorded a team-high 13 kills and senior Kristin Kingi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) broke the program's Division I career record for digs, propelling the Bryant University volleyball team to its first Northeast Conference Championship with a sweep of Sacred Heart Saturday on the campus of LIU Brooklyn.

With the win, Bryant captures the Northeast Conference's automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament and its first ticket to the field of 64 since becoming postseason eligible at the Division I level in 2012. Bryant made 11 trips to the NCAA Division II tournament in the 1990s and 2000s with the last coming in 2007.

Match Information
Bryant 3, Sacred Heart 0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-21)
Records: Bryant (22-12); Sacred Heart (17-10)
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 

Coach Garlacy's Comments
"The team leadership, with our five seniors, made this possible and made it happen tonight. It's not just the way they played, but the way they made their teammates feel comfortable. It gave them the confidence to step up and perform when they needed to. That's a huge part of the success we've had all season, and especially this weekend when we had some young players come in and play well in pressure situations."

How it Happened

  • Set 1 – Three straight Sacred Heart points put the Pioneers ahead 12-8, prompting a Bulldog timeout. SHU would push the lead to 16-9 before a 12-4 run put Bryant ahead 21-20. With Bryant leading 24-22, Flynn's attack was ruled out, but a successful challenge by Coach Garlacy overturned the call and won the set for the Black & Gold.
  • Set 2 – Bryant led 9-5 before SHU scored five of the next six to even the set at 10. The Pioneers led 18-15 at a Bulldog timeout, but Bryant would get the next two out of the break to pull within 18-17 and tied the set at 22 on a block from freshmen Caroline Kennedy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and Haley O'Brien (Milton, Mass.). Tied at 23, a kill from Flynn and an ace from sophomore Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) closed out a 25-23 set to go up 2-0.
  • Set 3 – The Bulldogs held a 16-11 lead before three straight Pioneer points led to a timeout from Coach Garlacy. Bryant pulled ahead 24-17 with four straight points and held off an SHU comeback bid, as a kill from Kennedy at 24-21 closed out the three-set victory and conference title.

Stats/Notes

  • Flynn recorded 13 kills and eight digs in the victory.
  • Ward tallied a match-high 17 digs.
  • Kingi added 16 digs and eight kills, passing Debora Magalhaes for Bryant's Division I career marks. The senior now has 1,365 career digs.
  • Kennedy collected nine kills and five blocks.
  • Senior Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) recorded 23 assists, while senior Julia Malet (San Rafael, Calif.) added 14.
  • Senior Grace Richmeyer (DeSoto, Mo.) hit .412 with seven kills and three blocks.
  • Flynn was named NEC tournament MVP and joined Richmeyer and Ward on the all-tournament team.
  • Bryant hit .164 for the match, while Sacred Heart was at .141.
  • The Bulldogs recorded eight blocks and the Pioneers tallied 8.5.
  • Bryant improves to 26-17 all-time against Sacred Heart and 8-15 in the Division I era.

Up Next
Bryant will learn its destination and opponent for the first round of the NCAA tournament when the NCAA selection show is held Sunday, Nov. 25 at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

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