WALTHAM, Mass. – Playing at home for the final time, seniors Tatiana Froelich (Newton/ Newton North HS) and Simone Silvera (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook HS) were among the standouts as Bentley University outlasted Merrimack College in five sets in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Championships Tuesday night at the Dana Center. The scores were 24-26, 25-20, 25-21, 19-25 and 15-7.
Froehlich put down 14 kills, including three in the final set, and was involved in four of Bentley's 16 blocks, the Falcons' highest total in seven years. Leading the way in rejections was Silvera, who had a career-high eight.
The victory boosted the fourth-ranked team in the NCAA Division II East Region to 17-10 and propelled the Falcons into this weekend's final four at the University of New Haven. Bentley will play Stonehill College, a 3-1 winner over Southern New Hampshire on Friday at a time to be announced.
The fifth set was close until Bentley ran off five straight points to take a 9-5 lead. That run included an ace from junior Jaci Buscher (Lakewood, Colo./Green Mountain HS) and kills from both Froehlich and classmate Kaleigh Sullivan (Naples, Fla./Harley School (N.Y.)).
After the Warriors picked up the next two points, Bentley's Joey Pacis, the conference's Coach of the Year, took a very productive timeout. When play resumed, his team embarked on a match-ending 6-0 run that included kills by Sullivan and sophomore Ashley Latimer (Croton on Hudson, N.Y./ Croton Harmon HS).
Merrimack grabbed a 1-0 lead in the match when the Warriors pulled out a 26-24 win in an opening set that featured 17 ties and five lead changes. After the Falcons came back to take the next two, the visitors evened the match with a 25-19 decision in the fourth.
Buscher filled the stat sheet with 12 kills, 12 digs, two blocks and two aces with the double-double her eighth. Sullivan followed with nine kills and senior Alex Tator (Los Angeles, Calif./ Marlborough School) provided the assist on 42 of Bentley's 48 kills, a total that moved her into fifth on the program's all-time list with 2,869. She also served three aces and had four blocks.
Senior libero Lauren Colasanti (Northville, Mich./Northville HS) led Bentley with 18 digs, in addition to serving three aces, and junior Jessica Segal (West Harrison, N.Y./West Harrison HS) had a dozen digs.
Merrimack, which had won seven straight matches, totaled 61 kills in the match with senior Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y.) and sophomore Jennifer Cain (Melrose) making 22 and 20, respectively. Each had a double-double with Sheehan making a match-high 23 digs for a rare 20-20.
Merrimack, ranked tenth in the region, dropped to 17-8 on the season. It was the fourth time in the last two years that they took Bentley to five sets before the Falcons prevailed.