WORCESTER, Mass. - Westfield State volleyball's season came to an end after a run to the MASCAC title game, as the Owls fell to Worcester State, 3-0 on Saturday night at John P. Brissette Court.
The set scores were 25-10, 25-9, 25-12. as top-seeded Worcester State won the conference title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
With the win, the Lancers move to 23-10 overall this season, and complete a perfect season in the MASCAC, in which they were an unblemished 7-0 in the regular season, 2-0 in the postseason, and never dropped a single set. Worcester State receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and will find out their opponent during the selection show on Monday at 12:30 p.m.
Westfield State sees its season come to a close with an overall record of 8-19. The Owls finished 5-2 in conference play, and won a pair of playoff games to finish the season on a strong note after an 0-12 start to the year. The Owls graduate just two players and should return a strong nucleus for the 2019 season.
In the early stages of set number one, it appeared the match may be a tight one. The two teams were tied at every possible score, until the Lancers took control at 7-7. A kill from Worcester junior Stephanie Chapin (Hampden, Mass.) began what would eventual be an 18-3 run to close out the set. A service ace from setter Allie Nolan (Melrose, Mass.) clinched the set for the Lancers, a set that saw senior Amari King (Lawrence, Mass.) record an nine kills on just 13 attempts.
With her first dig of the night in the first set, Worcester State senior libero Megan Leavens (Storrs, Conn.) became the program's all-time leader in career digs, recording the 1,272nd dig of her three-year career with the Lancers.
A 12-2 run in the early stages of set number two would prove to be more than enough for the Lancers, as they took a 2-0 lead in the match. Senior Emily Carens (Northborough, Mass.) was the leading Lancer in the middle set with five kills to help the Lancers put the Owls on the brink.
With the title well within their sights, the Lancers left no doubt as to who the champions would be. Worcester State opened the deciding third set on a 9-0 run, fueled by three kills from senior Lauren Murphy (Taunton, Mass.). Westfield State would attempt to make a comeback, as moments later a 4-0 run cut the Lancer deficit to 17-8, but Worcester State's offense was just too much for the Owls to handle. Minutes later, a kill from King on championship point clinched the match.
The Lancers featured an extremely balanced attack on the evening, as four players finished in double figures in kills. Carens, Murphy, and King all recorded 11, as Chapin chipped in 10 of her own. King and Carens each had double-doubles with 12 and 11 digs respectively, while Leavens had 11 digs of her own.
For Westfield State, senior middle Brianna Starkey (Rockland, Mass.) had a strong outing in her final collegiate match, with seven kills and three digs on the evening. Sophomore libero Jess Haradon (Mansfield, Mass.) led the Owls defensively with seven digs.
Following the match, Murphy was named the MASCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player. In two matches, Murphy recorded 15 kills for an attack percentage of .294, with four service aces, four digs, and two blocks.