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BEVERLY, Mass. – The Elms Blazers took down top-seeded Endicott in the NECC Championship match on Saturday afternoon 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18) and earned an automatic bid into the inaugural NCAA Division III Men’s Volleyball Tournament as the league champion.
The Blazers rallied behind NECC Tournament MVP Stephen Cameron (Newington, Conn.) who tallied a match-high 17 kills on a .389 hitting percentage while adding eight digs, three assisted blocks, and three service aces.
Elms sophomore setter Daniel Lebron (San Juan, Puerto Rico) and senior outside hitter Yonalvy Acosta (Holyoke, Mass.) also earned an All-Tournament nod for the victors as Lebron dished out 47 assists while coming up 22 digs and Acosta had eight kills with 12 digs and three blocks.
For Endicott, senior outside hitter Jeremy Siden (Natick, Mass.) was named All-Tournament after his 12-kill, 14-dig effort as was freshman middle Thomas Stoeckinger (Malibu, Calif.) who came up big for the Blue and Green with 14 kills and two blocks.
Endicott maintained a small lead for much of the first set. A three-point rally late in the set gave Endicott its largest lead at five points before Elms trimmed it down to just two at 21-19, 23-21 and 24-22. Gulls sophomore Brennan Lowe (Malibu, Calif.) struck a kill to hand the home team a 25-22 first set win.
In set two, Endicott and Elms battled back-and-forth until a four-point run by the Blazers put them ahead 14-10 midway through the set. Endicott fought back to tie it at 21 apiece but Elms took four of the final five points including two of Bryson Rainey’s (Brookline, Mass.) 12 kills to tie the match 1-1.
Endicott seemed to right the ship in the third, holding a three-point lead at 14-11 until Elms tied the score with three straight points. Down the stretch, both teams battled as there were nine ties but three Endicott errors in-a-row put the Blazers ahead 2-1 in the championship.
Elms controlled much of the fourth and final set, building a three-point lead then stretching it up to six points at 20-14 before finally capturing the 25-18 victory.
Gulls setter Jeremy Schlosser (Emmaus, Pa.) dished out 20 assists and added 13 digs and two aces to his solid overall effort. Junior Matt Devendorf (Glastonbury, Conn.) finished tied with Siden for second on the team in kills with 12. Senior libero Andrew Slocum (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) totaled 13 digs.
In the blocking game, Joshua Bruno (Andover, Mass.), Kevin Duggan (Glastonbury, Conn.), Lowe and Stoeckinger all had two blocks.
Elms also saw a solid effort out of senior outside hitter Carlos DeLeon (Carolina, Puerto Rico) who had 10 kills, eight digs, and two aces. Angel Castro (Carolina, Puerto Rico) had nine kills and tied teammate Stephen Cameron with three block assists.