Daemen Moves On To Regional Finals

Daemen Moves On To Regional Finals

Amherst, N.Y. - The Daemen College women's volleyball team will play for the East Region championship after defeating the University of New Haven three-sets-to-none (26-24, 26-24, 25-12) in tonight's NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship second round match at Lumsden Gymnasium.  Second-seeded Daemen will face fourth-seeded American International College (Saturday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.) for the right to advance to the Elite 8 which is slated for December 8-10 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Daemen, which is making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, improved to 25-7 on the season with the win (11-5 at home).  It marks the ninth time in team history that Daemen has reached 25 wins in a season, and the first time since going 27-10 in 2012.

New Haven, the No. 3 seed in the East Regional, was bounced out short of the regional finals for the second straight year after winning the regional title in 2014.  The Chargers were making their 31st NCAA tournament appearance all-time, including the last 11 straight.  The loss snapped their six-match winning streak which included a run to the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament crown, ending their season at 20-9 overall.

Outside hitters Amber Drzymala (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster) and Ashley Drzymala (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster), and middle hitter Courtney Bernard (Lancaster, Ohio/Fairfield Union) combined for 29 of the Wildcats' 44 kills in the match.  The Wildcats hit 25.6 percent for the match, up from just 13.7 percent in yesterday's five-set win over No. 7 Post University in the opening round.  Amber Drzymala notched a match-high 11 kills, and Bernard reached double figures for the second straight match with 10.  Ashley Drzymala chipped in with eight kills, all of which came after the first set, to go with eight digs.

Freshman setter Bailey Dolegowski (Marilla, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster) posted her 17th double-double (29 assists, 10 digs) of the season.  Of those, 12 have come in the Wildcats' last 13 matches.

The Wildcats also picked up 12 digs from freshman Jess Kranz (Depew, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster) who got the nod as the team's libero today.

UNH, which hit just 14.9 percent with 36 kills, was led by junior outside hitter Caroline Martins (Tres Pontas, Brazil) with 10 kills.  The Chargers also got eight kills from senior outside hitter Meghan Kennelly (Detroit, Mich.) who came into the match as the team's offensive leader, pacing a group of five players who have totaled between 209 and 274 kills this season.  Kennelly added a team-high 12 digs tonight as well.

Annika Hacker (Bayreuth, Germany) and Kristine Rios (Miami, Fla.) contributed 15 and 13 assists, respectively, to the Charger cause.

Daemen, which trailed by as many as 12 points in the first set last night vs. Post, got off to a decidedly better start today as they jumped out to a 10-3 lead early in the opening set. Amber Drzymala, Bernard and freshman Cristina Apostol (Bucharest, Romania/Targu Mures) each put down two kills in the spurt.

But, UNH would battle back.  They seized control in the set with an 11-1 run to take a 14-11 lead.  The Charger lead would eventually grow to four (24-20) before Daemen rattled off six consecutive points to win the set.  Four UNH attack errors aided the Daemen efforts.

Late in the second set, Kennelly knotted the score at 24-24 with a kill, but Daemen closed the set with consecutive points, including an Amber Drzymala kill, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

With a crowd of over 300 behind them, the Wildcats scored the first six points of the third set which included a pair of Dolegowski service aces.  Daemen would run their lead to as many as 14 points (17-3) as the wheels came off for the Chargers.

The Wildcats closed the set and the match on a kill by freshman Meghan Ballou (Eden, N.Y./Eden), and the team rushed off the bench to celebrate on the court, setting up a showdown with the AIC Yellow Jackets in tomorrow's East Region finals.  The Yellow Jackets (27-6), who finished second during the regular season in the Northeast-10, advanced by knocking off top-seeded N.Y. Institute of Technology, the ECC Tournament and defending East Region champs, in four sets (21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-17) to become the first lower seeded team to advance in this regional.

Diva Rivas-Reyes, the NE-10 Player of the Year, led a balanced AIC attack with 16 kills, and Dolores Kopren (Novi Sad, Serbia) notched 49 assists in the win.

The Yellow Jackets are also seeking their first-ever East Region championship in this, just their second-ever NCAA tournament appearance.  The Wildcats and Yellow Jackets last met on September 21, 2013 with Daemen scoring a 3-0 win behind the 14 kills of Ye Wang (Beijing, China/Hachioji Jissen).

Saturday's regional final is slated for a 5 p.m. start at Lumsden Gymnasium.

Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.