Beverly, Mass. – Behind a balanced team effort that saw three players reach double figures in kills along with a monster blocking effort from senior Darrien Mason, third-seeded Daniel Webster slugged its way past second-seeded Regis, 3-2 in the semifinals of the 2016 NECC men's volleyball championship tournament Friday night at MacDonald Gymnasium.
DWC prevailed in the rubber match of the season series with the Pride, despite falling behind 1-0 and 2-1 in sets with scores of 22-25, 26-24, 13-25, 25-19, and 15-12.
The win marked a new season wins record in Eagles program history as DWC improved to 16-12 overall, surpassing the 15 wins set by the 2013 club. The Eagles will be staring into the face of their greatest nemesis in the finals on Saturday as the top-seeded and host Gulls of Endicott topped fourth-seeded Elms in second semifinal (3-1). First service is set for 2:30 p.m.
DWC has never defeated Endicott in 23 all-time meetings in a series that began in 1999 and EC took all three meetings this season although after a pair of 3-0 setbacks, the Eagles pushed Endicott to a fifth set in the regular season for both just seven days ago.
The Eagles program will be making its third all-time appearance in the finals. DWC fell to Newbury (0-3) in the 2010 championship and bowed to Endicott (1-3) in the 2014 final.
Friday's balance was found in 13 kills and a match-best 16 digs from Tommy Reyes, 12 kills and eight digs from Ryan Howdeshell, and 11 kills from Saunoa Afoa. NJ Makaiwi added 42 assists and 18 digs. Richmond Iturralde Zavalza and Mason both posted six kills.
On the net, Mason posted six total blocks as DWC combined for 16.
DWC outlasted a Pride (12-12) group that had their way with the Eagles in a 3-1 win in Weston just 10 days previous that ultimately gave Regis the two seed. Friday's match, which finished just shy of two hours, saw 15 lead changes and 36 ties including seven ties in the fifth and three lead changes.
DWC hit .304 in the fifth (8-1-23) while Regis was .103 (8-5-29) and DWC clinched it on a pair of unforced attack errors from the Pride to close it out. Howdeshell would go 3-0-4 in the fifth on the attack while Mason would add two of his six kills.