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Volleyball Tops Salem to Advance to MASCAC Title Game

Ainsley MacLeod's hitting powered Westfield past Salem State and into the MASCAC Championship game. (file photo)
Ainsley MacLeod's hitting powered Westfield past Salem State and into the MASCAC Championship game. (file photo)

SALEM, MASS. -- Westfield State volleyball is continuing an impressive late season run, as #3 Westfield eliminated  #2 Salem State 3-0 in the semifinals of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Women's Volleyball Tournament on Thursday evening at Twohig Gymnasium. Ainsley MacLeod (Hampden, Mass.) recorded 19 kills on the night to lead the Owls into the championship match against top seed Worcester State on Saturday.

Westfield State is 8-18 overall, but the Owls posted a 5-2 record in the league after starting the season 0-12.  Westfield won it's regular season finale over Framingham to claim the #3 seed, then topped MCLA in the opening round of the tournament before tonight's win.  The Owls advance to the championship game, which will be played at top-seeded Worcester State on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Tonight, the Owls broke open a first close set with a 7-3 spurt as the Owls hit an impressive .619. Leading 20-12, Westfield State closed the set receiving kills from five different players, earning a 25-16 win.

Set two was tightly contested as the largest lead by either team was just three points. MacLeod carried the Owls' offense with eight kills as Westfield State held off the Vikings (14-11), who managed to tie the game at 21-21 after successive blocks by Maddi O'Connor (Hamilton, Mass.). Following an attack error and a service ace by Madison Coleman (Springfield, Mass.), kills by Brianna Starkey (Rockland, Mass.) and Ashley Crowley (Billerica, Mass.) cemented a 25-23 Owl's victory.

A kill by Morgan Adams (Scotia, N.Y.) gave Salem State a 7-6 lead in set three. However, once again Westfield State's offense took over as the Owls, which hit .571 for the set, regained control off the serve of Jess Haradon (Mansfield, Mass.) in building a 14-8 lead. The Owls' lead grew to 10 points following a kill by Starkey and Hanna Simpkins (Walpole, Mass.) ended the match with her second kill of the evening as Westfield State completed the sweep with a 25-16 win.

Starkey had 11 kills for Westfield State while Ally Rega (Chelmsford, Mass.) had a game-high 30 assists. Haradon topped the Owls with nine digs.

Darcy McDowell (Goshen, N.Y.) led Salem state with eight kills while Jasmine Severino (Lawrence, Mass.) and Brynn O'Neill (Danvers, Mass.) each had six for the Vikings. Morgan Adams (Scotia, N.Y.) contributed 29 assists. 

Salem State's 14 wins were the most by the Vikings' program since they went 19-7 in 2002, which was also the last time the team had a winning record.