MVB: Lasell set to face Emmanuel in GNAC playoffs

MVB: Lasell set to face Emmanuel in GNAC playoffs

NEWTON, Mass. – The Lasell College men's volleyball team will take on Emmanuel College for the third time this season on Tuesday evening, April 9, when the two teams meet in a quarterfinal match of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament at 7 p.m. at Emmanuel's Andy Yosinoff Court.

The #5 Lasers (13-16, 7-7 GNAC) won the first set in both regular season encounters this season against the #4 Saints (20-12, 9-5 GNAC), both on neutral courts, but lost the next three sets and the match, 3-1. The first time was March 16 in a tri-match at Regis College, and the second time was last Saturday, April 6, in a tri-match at Johnson & Wales University.

The winner of Tuesday's quarterfinal will advance to a semifinal match at top-seeded and regular season champion Rivier University (23-7, 14-0 GNAC) on Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m. The tournament championship match is slated for Saturday, April 13, at the site of the highest remaining seed, with the champion earning an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

The other quarterfinal match features #6-seed Emerson College at #3-seed Johnson & Wales Tuesday at 7 p.m., with the winner traveling to #2 seeded Wentworth Institute of Technology Thursday at 7 p.m. The two top-seeded teams, Rivier and Wentworth, received first-round byes.

Rivier blanked Wentworth in last year's title match, 3-0, for its eighth GNAC crown since the conference began sponsoring men's volleyball in 2008.

Lasell and Emmanuel are meeting in the post-season for the second year in a row. The fifth-seeded Lasers won the first two sets in last year's quarterfinal but the fourth-seeded Saints came back to win the next three sets to pull out the win. Emmanuel went on to lose to top-seeded Rivier in the semifinals.

The Lasers advanced to the championship match in 2017, falling to fifth-ranked and top-seeded Wentworth, 3-2. Lasell won its only GNAC championship in 2015, knocking off Rivier in the title match, 3-2.

Lasell features a balanced offense in 2019, with four players averaging between 1.82 and 1.41 kills per set.). Junior Scott Sterenberg (Oceanside, N.Y.) averages 1.82 kills per set, sophomore Conor Leary-Watson (Bethany, Conn.) averages 1.71, sophomore Aaron Waitekus (Norwood, Mass.) averages 1.54 with a team-high .301 attack percentage, and junior Janci Soto (Lawrence, Mass.) averages 1.41 kills per set.

Senior setter Andy Henriquez (Lawrence, Mass.) distributes the ball to the hitters, averaging 6.59 assists per set, fifth highest in the GNAC, and classmate Nate Gallo (East Providence, R.I.) chips in with 2.33 assists per set.

Senior Jordan Aprea (Newington, Conn.) leads the back row players, averaging 3.05 digs per set, third-highest in the GNAC. The top blockers are Waitekus with 0.62 blocks per set, sophomore Dillon DeSouza (Enfield, Conn.) with 0.51 blocks per set, and Soto with 0.48 blocks per set.

The Lasers are led by acting head coach Dana Jones and assistant coach Jeff Vautrin.

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