PREVIEW: Volleyball poised for NE10 Championship semifinals

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Fresh off its first-ever victory in the Northeast-10 Conference Volleyball Championship, the No. 6 seed Saint Anselm College volleyball team faces No. 7 seed Southern Connecticut State University in the tournament's semifinals on Friday, Nov. 17 in a 7:30 p.m. start at Charger Gymnasium on the campus of the University of New Haven.

LINKS: NE10 Championship Field Release | NE10 Championship Central | NE10 Quarterfinal Recap

Saint Anselm recorded its first win in the league's postseason tournament on Tuesday evening, downing No. 3 seed Bentley in five sets (19-25, 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 17-15) in the quarterfinals. The Hawks entered the match with an 0-12 record in nine appearances in the NE10 Championship and had never won a match at Bentley, but the Hawks survived a frantic deciding set that included 13 ties to defeat the Falcons for the third time this season.

Southern Connecticut entered the NE10 Championship as the No. 7 seed but, like Saint Anselm, knocked off a higher seed on its home court, dispatching No. 2 seed American International in four sets on Tuesday evening. After dropping the first set, the Owls won the next three to eliminate the Yellow Jackets (26-28, 25-17, 25-22, 25-19) and advance to the NE10 semifinals for the third time in program history (2009, 2012, 2017).

The other semifinal matchup, starting at 5 p.m., will feature the No. 1 seed and host University of New Haven and the No. 5 seed Stonehill. The Chargers were pushed to five sets on their home floor by No. 8 seed Pace, but won the final five points to survive and advance (21-25, 25-14, 25-20, 22-25, 15-10). The Skyhawks advanced to the semifinals with a four-set win at No. 4 seed Adelphi, taking out the Panthers 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 25-19.

The winners of the two semifinals will play for the 2017 Northeast-10 Conference Volleyball Championship crown on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. The championship match will also be held at Charger Gymnasium.

Per NE10 regulations, admission will be charged for all postseason contests. Tickets for adults will by $6.00 with children and senior citizens (65+) priced at $4.00. Students with a valid ID from an NE10-member institution will be admitted for $1.00. All-sport passes from the NE10 are valid for postseason contests.

New Haven will be providing live video and live stats for the showdown between the Owls and Hawks. You can also follow @STAHawks on Twitter and Instagram for live updates throughout the match.

SCOUTING SAINT ANSELM

  • Following the victory on Tuesday, Saint Anselm moved up two spots to No. 6 in the East Region in the final set of regional rankings released by the NCAA. The regional rankings are used to determine the field for the NCAA Tournament.
  • Saint Anselm is the top-hitting team in the NE10 this season, pacing the conference with a .215 attack percentage, which would rank second in program history for any single season. Sophomore middle Madison Sollows ranks third in the league with a .345 attack percentage, while freshman middle Holly Manchester is 16th, hitting at a .223 clip.
  • The Hawks rank third in the NE10 in service aces per set (1.78), led by senior outside hitter Katy Teets' league-best mark of 0.54, which is the 13th-best per-set average in the nation.
  • Teets and fellow outside hitter Catherine McCarthy both rank in the conference's top-20 in kills per set. Teets, who became the third student-athlete in program history to hit the 1,000-kill milestone on Saturday, ranks 10th (3.00), while McCarthy, a sophomore, sits 19th (2.56). Teets is also seventh in the conference in points per set (3.8).
  • Junior setter Jewel Hays boasts the fourth-best assists-per-set mark in the NE10 (9.32) and ranks third all-time at Saint Anselm with 2,573 career assists. Hays is coming off a season-high 57 assists in the win over Bentley.
  • Defensively, senior defensive specialist Danielle Isbell leads the Hawks with 3.96 digs per set, while Hays (2.64) and Teets (2.41) also have over 200 digs for the season. Manchester paces Saint Anselm in solo blocks (10), block assists (73), total blocks (83) and blocks per set (0.89), while ranking sixth in the NE10 on a per-set basis.
  • Saint Anselm's 36 combined victories over the last two seasons are the most in consecutive years for the program since 1999 and 2000 (37 wins). The Hawks are also making back-to-back appearances in the league's postseason for the first time since the 2003 and 2004 campaigns.

SCOUTING SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT

  • Southern Connecticut was slotted eighth in the East Region of this week's NCAA Regional rankings, two spots behind the Hawks.
  • The Owls are 3-3 all-time in the NE10 Volleyball Championship and the victory over American International was the program's first in the tournament since 2012. Southern Connecticut is in the field for the fourth time, also appearing in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Like the Hawks, the Owls are seeking their first-ever appearance in the league's championship match.
  • With her first kill of the night on Tuesday, junior Leanna Jadus moved into first place in the SCSU record book for single-season kills, breaking Jenna Tammel's record of 394 form 2008. Jadus' total of 406 kills this season is second-highest in the NE10, while her average of 3.63 kills per set ranks third in the NE10. Her 1,018 career kills are second all-time at SCSU.
  • Teammates Gabriela Vazquez (11th, 2.94) and Alyssa Gage (14th, 2.80) also rank in the conference's top-15 in kills per set this season for the Owls, who trail only Le Moyne (13.00) in kills per set as a team (12.77) among NE10 teams.
  • Alexandra Nimz and Alexandria Jurgens have split setting duties for the Owls this season. Nimz averages 5.63 assists per set, while Jurgens contributes 5.21. The pair help SCSU rank third in the NE10 in assists per set as a team (11.91).
  • In addition to their hitting prowess, Jadus and Vazquez are among the NE10's top servers. Jadus is fourth in the NE10 in aces per set (0.42) and Vazquez sits sixth (0.38).
  • Although Southern Connecticut does not have any individual in the league's top-10 in digs per set, the Owls rank second in the conference in the category (18.39). Anna Venard's average of 3.99 digs per set is 14th-best in the NE10.
  • With a 22-9 record this season, SCSU has recorded its seventh 20-win season in program history (1975, 1978, 1980, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2017), doing so for the third time under Lisa Barbaro.

ALL-TIME IN NE10 TOURNAMENT

After the historic win at Bentley on Tuesday, Saint Anselm is 1-12 all-time in the NE10 Volleyball Championship. Prior to last season, the Hawks had not appeared in the NE10 Tounrament since 2004, but are now in the field for the second-straight season and 10th time overall (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2016, 2017).

ALL-TIME VS. SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT

Friday evening's match is the 22nd all-time meeting between Saint Anselm and Southern Connecticut in a series that dates back to Oct. 1, 1994. The Hawks hold a slender 11-10 advantage in the head-to-head matches with the Owls, breaking a 10-10 tie in the series with a home sweep (25-19, 25-23, 25-21) back on Sept. 23. Saint Anselm hit .319 in the match to deal Southern Connecticut its first NE10 defeat of the season, as both teams entered the match at 2-0 in the NE10.

2017 NE10 Volleyball Championship Schedule

Tuesday, November 14th 

Quarterfinals - ­at Higher Seeds
Match 1: #1 New Haven 3, #8 Pace 2 
Match 2: #7 Southern Connecticut 3, #2 American International 1 
Match 3: #6 Saint Anselm 3, #3 Bentley 2 
Match 4: #5 Stonehill 3, #4 Adelphi 1 

Friday, November 17th 

Semifinals - at New Haven
Match 5: #1 New Haven vs. #5 Stonehill ­| 5:00 p.m.
Match 6: #7 Southern Connecticut vs. #6 Saint Anselm | 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 18th   

Championship ­- at New Haven
Match 7: Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner | 5:00 p.m.