Wentworth Selected as Preseason Favorite, Seeks Second Straight CCC Volleyball Title

Wentworth Selected as Preseason Favorite, Seeks Second Straight CCC Volleyball Title

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Wentworth is looking to repeat the success of its historic 2018 campaign that saw it achieve its first Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament Championship as well as a number of other program firsts. The Leopards will enter the year as the preseason favorite to win the league according to the preseason poll that was conducted by the nine head women’s volleyball coaches.

The Leopards earned 76 points in the poll, including seven of the nine first place votes.

Last season, Wentworth compiled a 7-1 CCC (25-5 overall) to earn a share of the 2018 CCC Regular-Season Championship. The Leopards’ one loss came at the hands of their co-champion Endicott giving Wentworth the No. 2 seed in the tournament. They went on to sweep their way through the tournament and earn the conference’s automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship where they fell to Wellesley in the First Round.

The Gulls, which also earned a share of the CCC Regular-Season Championship last year, finished second in the poll with 70 points and the other two first place votes. Endicott also had a 7-1 CCC (18-11 overall) record and claimed the top spot in the CCC Tournament. However, they would make an early exit, dropping a five-setter to Roger Williams in the semifinals.

Those Hawks fall in the third spot in the 2019 poll, accumulating 63 points, followed by last year’s other semifinalist Salve Regina, which earned 52 points. Gordon and Western New England shared the fifth spot with 42 points each.

The University of New England (33 points), Curry (16), and Nichols (11) made up the remainder of the poll in that order.

CCC women’s volleyball teams take the court on Friday, Aug. 30, starting with non-conference action. Roger Williams and Wentworth meet for the first conference match on Wednesday, Sept. 18 with the first full conference date scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24. The top seven teams in the conference standings at the end of the regular season earn spots in the 2019 CCC Championship Tournament. The tournament begins on Tuesday, Nov. 5 with three quarterfinal matchups. The quarterfinal winners will advance to the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 7 to compete for a spot in the CCC Tournament Championship on Saturday, Nov. 9. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the conference’s automatic qualifier into the 2019 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship.

 

2019 CCC Women's Volleyball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. Wentworth 76 (7)
2. Endicott 70 (2)
3. Roger Williams 63
4. Salve Regina 52
T-5. Gordon 42
T-5. Western New England 42
7. University of New England 33
8. Curry 16
9. Nichols 11

 

2019 CCC Women's Volleyball Previews

Contributed by each school's sports information department.

 

 

1. Wentworth

Fresh off its first CCC Championship title, the Wentworth women’s volleyball team looks to defend its reign under head coach Evin Giglio, who enters his eighth season with the Leopards. Exceeding all expectations after being picked fourth in last year’s preseason poll, Wentworth claimed its first-ever regular-season title, matched its winningest season in history at 25-5, hosted the entirety of its matches in the postseason tournament, and were crowned champions after a 3-0 win over Roger Williams. While graduating one lone senior, the Leopards look to defend their title with its core group of student-athletes, including All-Conference selections Leah Rogoz (Woodridge, Ill.), Claire Quick (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Lexie Cambray (Bedford, N.H.), and Samantha Lassiter (Rogers, Ark.). Rogoz, who finished the 2018 season as the conference leader in kills (353) and kills per set (3.97), was also named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic-All District Team in addition to being a CCC First Team honoree.

The Leopards welcome a handful of new players to the roster, all of whom hail outside of the Massachusetts region, and begin the season in sunny California on August 30 for the 2019 Pacific Coast Classic. Wentworth will face Cal Lutheran, Occidental, Redlands, and Pomona-Pitzer before returning to Boston for a COF match at Simmons on Sept. 5.

  Leah Rogoz, WIT

2. Endicott

Following a 2018 season that saw the Gulls fall in the CCC Semifinals, Endicott will look to claim the program's third CCC title in the last four years in 2019. Leading the charge this year will be reigning CCC Player of the Year Zoey Gifford (Natick, Mass.), CCC Libero of the Year Mackenzie Kennedy (Andover, Mass.), and CCC Rookie of the Year/AVCA New England Rookie of the Year Colleen McAvoy (Coventry, Conn.). Head coach Tim Byram enters his 20th season at the helm as the Gulls open the season against Worcester State and WPI on Saturday, Aug. 31.

  Zoey Gifford, EC

3. Roger Williams 

The Roger Williams women’s volleyball team looks poised to make another run at the CCC Championship. Last season, the Hawks posted a runner-up finished in the CCC title match after finishing fourth in the regular-season standings. In addition, the team put four players on the All-CCC Team. Head Coach Dani Soubliere enters her fifth season at the helm of the RWU Volleyball program. Though the Hawks lose four-time All-CCC First Team selection Molly Quilty, the team is still laden with veteran firepower, including two-time All-CCC First Teamer senior Lara LoIacono (Lynbrook, N.Y.)

   Lara LoIacono, RWU

4. Salve Regina

Head coach Lauren Parsons begins her eighth season at the helm of the Seahawks, having made the playoffs in each of her previous seven seasons. Even though the team graduated six seniors, Salve Regina still has a solid and experienced squad returning.  Many of the younger players saw significant playing time last season which has prepared them to take on a larger role this season.  

Annie Donahue (Chelmsford, Mass.) returns as a senior captain who has been a force in the middle, earning First Team All-CCC in her first three seasons. Madison Lee (Dover, Fla.) and Nicole Karabaich (Greenlawn, N.Y.), who as freshman gained a lot of experience on the court last year, return as well.  Andee Bender (Lebanon, Conn.) and Katie Linekin (Ridgefield, Conn.) returning as juniors, with Bender stepping up a tremendous amount for her team and Linekin being a solid piece to the back row.  “Overall, we have a great team returning and a good freshman class coming in,” said Parsons.  “We are going to have a lot of depth in all the positions which will make practice very competitive.” 

  Annie Donahue, SRU

T-5. Gordon

Head Coach Sue Kelly enters her fifth season at the helm, leading the Fighting Scots to five straight postseason appearances. Veterans Amanda Snyder (San Jose, Calif.) and Jamie Tafoya (Fort Collins, Colo.) combined for a total of 459 kills last season and will look to pace the offense this year. Feeding them the ball will be setter Ashlyn Gergins (Murrieta, Calif) who finished third in the league last year in assists per set with an average of 8.68. The Fighting Scots also welcome four newcomers to the program who look to make a positive impact.  

The Scots open the season on Friday, Aug. 30 as they host MCLA at 6 p.m. 

  Amanda Snyder, GC

T-5. Western New England

Western New England will look to bounce back in 2019 under the direction of fourth-year head coach Samantha Shomo ’11. The Golden Bears posted a 9-20 (3-5 CCC) record last fall and finished sixth in the league standings.

Senior outside hitter Ashley Matthews (Salem, N.H.), the 2018 team captain and an All-CCC Second Team honoree, returns to lead Western New England after averaging 2.67 kills and 2.40 digs per set as a junior. Senior middle blockers Cassandra Holmes (Ellington, Conn.) and Kierah Parker (Middletown, Conn.) will also look to play key roles for the Golden Bears, while senior setter Caitlyn Sibiskie (Rockfall, Conn.) returns to the lineup after missing the 2018 campaign with an injury.

Western New England opens its 2019 season on the road at SUNY Cortland’s Red Dragon Volleyball Classic the weekend of Aug. 30-31 with matches against Marywood, St. Lawrence, Rochester, and Lebanon Valley. The Golden Bears return home to host Elms on Thursday, Sept. 5, before starting CCC play against the University of New England on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

 
Ashley Matthews, WNE

7. University of New England

The University of New England and 40th-year head coach Karol L'Heureux return all but one starter from 2018. In addition, All-Conference senior libero Katie Marsh (Melbourne, Australia) (Third Team) is back from leading the group with 4.62 digs per set, which was the highest average in the last 15 seasons of the program. Senior Katie Flynn (Merrimack, N.H.) (2.44 kills per set) and junior Sydney Christiansen (Palatine, Ill.) (7.96 assists per set) also topped the squad in other statistical categories.

 
Katie Marsh, UNE

8. Curry

Curry will look to return to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. Head coach Bori May enters his third season at the helm and look for leadership on and off the court from its four seniors. The Colonels welcome back its top four kills leaders from a year ago, led by sophomores Lexi Pereira (Attleboro, Mass.) and Amanda Wood (Tokyo, Japan), who finished with 266 (fifth in CCC last season) and 207, respectively. Curry will also turn to senior Alexis Bell (Salem, Conn.), the team’s returning assist leader from last season, finishing with 686, good enough to rank seventh in the conference last season. Other key returners include sophomore Rachel Damstra (Houston, Texas), junior Jordyn Keith (Whitman, Mass.), and senior Caroline Kilduff (Rockland, Mass.). The Colonels round out their roster with one more sophomore, two more juniors, and 12 freshmen.

 
Alexis Bell, CC

9. Nichols

The Nichols women’s volleyball team is entering its fourth season as a program and second season under head coach John Post. After picking up five wins in 2018, the second most in a season for the program, the Bison look to continue to improve. Sophomore Jayleen Fegan (Mansfield Center, Conn.) and senior Megan Gardner (South Deerfield, Mass.) look to hold down the fort for the Bison after combining for 342 kills and 66 service aces last season.

 
Megan Gardner, NC

 

 

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports. In 2020, the conference will expand to 10 full members with the addition of Suffolk University.

 

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