NEWTON, Mass. (4/12/17) - Coming off the best regular season in program history, the second seeded Lasell College men's volleyball team will play host to third seeded Rivier University in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament semifinals on Thursday, April 13.
First serve is slated for 7:00 p.m. in the Athletic Center at Lasell College. The game will be streamed live, and can be viewed here.
Lasell enters the semifinal match with a program-best record of 28-5 overall and 13-1 in conference, its only loss coming from the first seeded Leopards of Wentworth. The Lasers currently sit at No. 11 in the AVCA National Poll, where they've been ranked in the top 15 since February 7. Rivier finished the regular season at 20-12 and 10-4 in GNAC play, and have been receiving national votes from the AVCA throughout the season.
The Lasers took the season series against Rivier after beating them twice in the regular season, in four sets both times.
Seniors Tristan Davis (Rochester, N.Y.) and Jeffrey Vautrin (Chicopee, Mass.) lead the way for the Lasers offensively. The duo is ranked first and second in the GNAC in total kills on the season with 352 and 307, respectively. In addition, Patrick MacDonald (Floral Park, N.Y.) added 220 kills and Saunoa Afoa (Las Vegas, Nev.) had 196 this season.
Lasell's setter, Andy Henriquez (Lawrence, Mass.) has effectively orchestrated the offense all season. His 10.20 assists per set average leads the GNAC by a substantial margin and ranks him at No. 8 among all NCAA Division III men's volleyball standings.
Thursday's match is set to be a defensive showdown between two of the best liberos in the GNAC. Lasell's Jordan Aprea (Newington, Conn.) and Rivier's Garret Bucklin (Jamestown, R.I.) have been the only two liberos to win GNAC Defensive Player of the Week awards. Bucklin has a slight advantage in digs per set with a 2.90 average compared to Aprea's 2.73, while Aprea leads in total digs with 308, compared to Bucklin's 284.
The Lasell-Rivier postseason rivalry sits in familiar territory, dating back to 2011, where the Raiders beat Lasell in four sets in the championship match. In 2015, Lasell triumphed over Rivier in the GNAC Championship game in a five set thriller, winning the first title in program history. In 2016, Lasell's season ended when Rivier came out on top in the GNAC Semifinal.
On the other side of the bracket, fourth seeded Johnson & Wales University travels to Boston to take on the first seeded Leopards of Wentworth Institute of Technology at 7:00 on Thursday as well.
Thursday night's winners will play for the GNAC title on Saturday, April 15 at the highest remaining seed.