Amherst, N.Y. – The Daemen College women's volleyball team advanced to the East Coast Conference Tournament finals after defeating LIU Post 3-1 in semifinal action (25-22, 33-31, 17-25, 27-25). The No. 1 Wildcats ousted the No. 4 seeded Pioneers in front of a packed house at Lumsden Gymnasium this evening.
Daemen earned their 15-straight win, improving to 23-6 overall. With the loss, LIU Post finishes 2016 with a 15-13 season mark.
Ashley Drzymala (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster), ECC Player of the Year, led the Wildcats with a match-high 20 digs and added nine digs and three blocks. Cristina Apostol (Bucharest, Romania/Targu Mures), Megan Ballou (Eden, N.Y./Eden), and Amber Drzymala (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster) each tallied double digit kills.
Bailey Dolegowski, the East Coast Conference Co-Rookie of the Year, posted her 15th double-double this season, dishing out 52 assists and recording 14 digs. Defensively Kailey Ballou (Eden, N.Y./Eden) continued to shine with a team-high 17 digs.
LIU Post was led by Danielle Valenza (Hauppauge, N.Y.) and Rachel Londot (Utica, Ohio), who registered 18 and 14 kills respectively. The pair also totaled 27 digs of the squad's 63. Kassie Akour-Tejedor (North Miami Beach, Fla.) had 24 helpers and Abby Eckhardt (Westminster, Colo.) recorded 20 digs in the losing effort.
In the first set of the ECC tourney, Daemen took an early 4-2 lead on the swing of Apostol, but LIU Post evened the score, winning the next two points. A kill from Ashley Drzymala followed by a Dolegowski service ace gave Daemen the 9-7 advantage, but the Pioneers used a three-point run to steal the lead, 10-9. Post widened the gap 14-10, capped by a block from Taryn McCullouch (Buena Park, Calif) and Guilia Genna (Rome, Ital), forcing Daemen to call a timeout. Daemen roared back on the serve of Meghan Ballou, for the 16-14 lead. LIU Post broke another tie with two consecutive scores, leading 19-17, but the Wildcats battled back, taking their own two-point lead with kills from Ashley Drzymala and Meghan Ballou, 23-21. Amber Drzymala hammered home the winning-kill, bolstered by a perfect pass from her sister, Ashley Drzymala, for the 25-22 Wildcat win.
The semifinal showdown continued with back and forth action in the second set to begin with a 3-3 draw. Megan Ballou tacked down a kill and a service ace giving Daemen the 6-3 edge. The Pioneers fought back with kills from Lea Brady (Woodbridge, Va.) and Londot to even the score at 11, then took the 14-12 lead on the serve of Eckhardt. After trailing 18-14, Daemen used a 5-1 run to tie the set 19-19, ignited by Kailey Ballou's strong defensive efforts. Post, who had the 24-21 lead was forced to take a pair of timeouts after Daemen tied the game 24-24. The contest would feature seven more ties, before Daemen captured the 33-31 overtime victory.
Following a crazy 30 point-set, the Pioneers jumped to a 6-3 lead bolstered by a three-point run to open the third. After two consecutive errors Daemen trailed 10-6, but Apostol pounded down a kill to the middle of the floor putting the Wildcats back within three 10-7. LIU Post outscored Daemen 9-3, featuring kills from Valenza and McCulloch to grow the Pioneer lead 19-10. After lagging 22-12, Daemen scored the next three points to trail by single digits 22-15, but it wasn't enough to halt LIU Post, who cruised to a 25-17 conquest.
The fourth and final set continued to give the crowd of 325 everything and more opening with a 6-6 standstill. Kills from the Drzymala duo, followed by a monstrous Wildcat block gave Daemen the 11-8 advantage. Post notched 7 of the next 11 points to tie the match at 15, but Daemen scored five-straight to reoccupy the lead 19-15. Courtney Bernard pinned down three kills to keep Daemen in control of a slim 23-21 margin. The two squads contended to the very end for another overtime production but Daemen was victorious in seeing another day. The Wildcats won the closing set 27-25.
The Wildcats will face off against No. 2 New York Institute of Technology tomorrow night for the East Coast Conference Championship. Match time for the tourney finals is set for 5:00 p.m. in Lumsden Gymnasium.
Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.