Women's Volleyball: EAGLES ADVANCE IN AN EPIC VAGGE GYM FINALE, 3-2 OVER NEWBURY

Nashua, N.H. - Let the record show that the final home match in the history of women's volleyball at Daniel Webster College Friday night was both an instant classic and, happily for the Eagles, one for the ages.

Up 2-0 in front of a full house in their New England Collegiate Conference semifinal and seemingly cruising into the title match set for Sunday, the second-seeded Eagles watched third-seeded Newbury mount a Herculean comeback to force a fifth set before the hosts would outlast the Nighthawks 3-2 to reach the final for the first time since 2010, third time overall, and last time ever.

Set scores were 25-15, 25-13, 20-25, 25-27, and 15-11.

The Eagles, who improved to 22-7 overall, now face their date with destiny on Sunday when they visit top-seed and two-time defending tournament champion Regis (14-15), 3-0 winners over fifth-seeded Bay Path earlier in the evening. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m.

DWC, Regis and Newbury had all tied for the regular season crown with 7-1 records. Regis earned the top seed via conference tiebreaker.

Newbury finished its season 12-9 overall.

The Eagles will face a tall task after dropping a 3-0 decision (25-20, 27-25, 25-18) to the Pride in Weston, Mass. back on October 12th, incidentally DWC's last loss that has been followed by a program record nine-game win streak and their only loss in their last 15 outings (14-1). Regis will be making its fifth straight appearance in the final. DWC is just 4-7 all-time in the series and have won only once (2009) in five tries at Higgins Court.

The match saw both teams hammer away at each other for more than two hours, as they combined for 98 kills, 200 digs, 21 aces, and 99 assists. DWC walked away with slight advantages in kills (50-48) and assists (45-44), and were decisive in aces (17-4), while Newbury was remarkable in digs (110-90). DWC hit .128 on the night. The Nighthawks finished at a .108 clip.

Rebecca Hoffman (Andover, Mass.) put forth the match of her career for the winners, finishing with a team and career-high 16 kills to go with four aces and three blocks. Hannah Koehler (Bedford, N.H.) followed with 15 kills and five blocks, while Madeline Roulier (Pittsfield, Mass.) posted six kills, six aces and 20 digs.

Nicole Beard (Shelton, Conn.) finished with 38 assists and 10 digs and went over the 1,700-assist mark for her career. Courtney Sheyenne Warrington (Oceanside, Cal.) pulled in 21 digs with four aces, and Amanda Gendron (Mt. Vernon, N.H.) chipped in with five kills. 

Newbury saw a mesmerizing effort from senior Courtney Banks (Corona, Cal.) who led the Nighthawk rally finishing with a match-high 21 kills, breaking (and retiring with) the all-time kills record for the program. Kataya Sykes (Brockton, Mass.) added 12 kills and two blocks, while Gabby Aldaco (Springdale, Ark.) chipped in with eight kills and 19 digs. Marien Reynoso (Springdale) dished out 36 assists and pulled in 15 digs, and Lindsey Clark posted 19 digs.

The player of the night was arguably Newbury libero Julia Leggett (Longview, Wash.) who was astonishing finishing with 46 digs including 11 in the second, 15 in the third, and 10 in the fourth. 
Despite the marathon, both teams controlled their respective set wins.

The match saw only 11 ties and four lead changes with Newbury never trailing in the third and DWC never trailing in the fifth.

The set of the night was an electrifying fourth, in which Newbury trailed only twice but let an early five-point lead (17-12) whittle down to three at 22-19 and the Eagles later tied it at 22 on a pair of unforced errors and a Kaitlyn Mitchell (Voluntown, Conn.) ace. 

Tied again at 23, a Banks kill gave Newbury set point only to see DWC answer with two off a Koehler kill and Hoffman ace to grab match point at 25-24.

But Newbury answered with a Sykes kill and back-to-back Eagle attack errors to force the fifth.
Bloodied but not broken, DWC came out firing in the fifth. Five straight points came at the line with Beard serving, and back-to-back kills from Mitchell and Hoffman made it a 7-1 game.

DWC extended the lead to 10-2 after a pair of Nighthawk errors and seemed in control at 12-5 after another Koehler kill.

Newbury's final counterpunches pulled them within 14-11 on Sykes's final kill of the night, but DWC clinched it on the next Newbury service with Mitchell posting only her second kill of the night to end it.

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