Volleyball dominates in ECAC first round

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • November 9, 2016

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Kelley Guerra serves the ball during Emerson's win over Morrisville State College on Wednesday.
Kelley Guerra serves the ball during Emerson's win over Morrisville State College on Wednesday.

In its first postseason action since 2013, Emerson women’s volleyball left no doubt who the better team on the court was, defeating Morrisville State College in straight sets Wednesday.

The win in the first round of the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament sends Emerson to the quarterfinal round on Saturday. The Lions are the top seed in the New England region, and were chosen to host the first round.

Two kills by freshman Lily Marella set the tone early for Emerson. After the fourth-seeded Mustangs tied the opening set at four, the Lions went on a 6-0 run, aided by two kills each for Bella Edwards and Jules Augustine.

Morrisville State called a timeout after that run, but the Lions won five more straight points following the breather, running the score to 15-4. The Mustangs never cut the deficit to less than eight from there.

The second set was no kinder to the visitors. Aided by two more kills from Marella, the Lions opened the set on a 7-0 run. Marella, who finished with nine kills, said the team was a bit looser than they usually are for tough conference games because advanced scouting indicated a likely victory.

“When we play the big teams, we get so hyped up, we get aggressive, we start making mistakes, and then we start beating ourselves up for those mistakes,” Marella said. “We knew we were going to win, to be frank, so there was no sense of ‘I’m scared for this.’ No one was nervous. It was just all about getting it done quickly and getting out to the tournament.”

The score was tighter in the clinching set, but Emerson removed a number of starters. The Mustangs won a lengthy volley to pull within six at 21-15, but Emerson put the game away on another Marella kill.

Read said he didn’t see what he expected from Morrisville State after studying tape, but attributed their short, nine-player roster to potential academic commitments on a Wednesday afternoon.

“Watching video, they were amazingly scrappy. They ran a very quick offense when they passed well,” Read said. “I think missing some of their players affected their chemistry today and we capitalized on that.”

Teams who finish with a record of .500 or better overall qualify for the ECAC tournament. Read pointed to the women’s soccer program’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference playoff appearance a year after winning their ECAC tournament as a model he hopes to emulate.

“Soccer last year; it helped catapult them,” Read said. “They play a little bit longer, they got some confidence building some wins, and hopefully it catapults us with that confidence through next year into the NEWMAC.”

The Lions will hit the road to face off against Manhattanville College, winners of Wednesday’s first round nightcap in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym. The match is scheduled for 2 p.m on Saturday.