NEWTON, Mass. (4/13/17) -- The second-seeded Lasell College men's volleyball team bounced back from a first-set loss and won three straight Thursday night in the Athletic Center, advancing to its second Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) title game in three seasons with a 3-1 victory over the third-seeded Raiders of Rivier University.
Lasell, ranked No. 11 nationally by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, improves to 29-5 on the season with its sixth straight victory, while Rivier finishes its season at 20-13.
Senior Tristan Davis (Rochester, N.Y.) was one of three Lasers with double-digit kills with a match-high 19, while classmate Jeffrey Vautrin (Chicopee, Mass.) posted 12 to go along with 11 digs and Saunoa Afoa (Las Vegas, Nev.) added 10. Sophomore Andy Henriquez (Lawrence, Mass.) handed out 43 of Lasell's 54 assists as another sophomore, Jordan Aprea (Newington, Conn.) hit the floor for 12 digs to lead the defensive effort.
Senior Ian Wolski (Westfield, Mass.) paced the Raiders with 14 kills, sophomore Grant Andler (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in with 10, and senior Tyler Blank (Rochester, N.Y.) posted all but two of Rivier's 39 assists. Junior Garrett Bucklin (Jamestown, R.I.) led Rivier with 11 digs.
The visitors never trailed in the first set, scoring scored the first three points en route to a 25-16 victory. Vautrin recorded four of Lasell's nine kills in the game, leading an offense that committed nine errors, helping Rivier to an opening victory. The Lasers moved within five points twice during the middle stages of the game, but Rivier scored four of the last five points.
While Rivier was quick out of the gates in the first, Lasell staged a 7-3 run to begin the second with freshman Janci Soto (Lawrence, Mass.) recording back-to-back kills. The Raiders tied the game halfway through as 12-12, but the Lasers scored five of the final seven points to draw the match even at a game apiece.
Lasell's offense was balanced in the second set as three players recorded four kills, including Vautrin who posted two of the team's final six points. Davis finished the match-evening contest with one of four service aces.
The Lasers were 25-15 winners in the third set, posting its 14 kills with just two errors. Davis posted six of them, including two on Lasell's final four points. Lasell scored five straight points with the game tied 7-7 to take the lead and then took control of the match with seven of the last ten points.
The closest game of the night was the fourth as Lasell won 25-21, using an 8-1 spurt in the middle stages and kills on 19 of its 25 points to take the victory. Lasell scored five straight points on that run, with Henriquez downing one of his three kills on the night to increase its lead to 15-7.
Davis posted seven kills in the final set, four of which came on the Lasers' first 12 points, while classmate Patrick MacDonald (Floral Park, N.Y.) finished the night with five of his nine kills in the set. MacDonald helped the Lasers surge ahead late, taking passes from Henriquez and Soto for the final two kills of the game.
In search of their second-ever GNAC title, the Lasers make the short trip into Boston to face the top-seeded Leopards of Wentworth Institute of Technology in Saturday's championship match. First serve is set for 3:00 p.m.