WALTHAM, Mass. – American International College Dolores Kopren (Novi Sad, Serbia) had 78 assists, the most by any player in NCAA women's college volleyball this fall, as the Yellow Jackets outlasted Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference action at the Dana Center Thursday night.
Scores in the tightly-played two-hour and 25-minute marathon were 30-32, 25-23, 25-20, 22-25 and 15-12.
Bentley finished the regular season at 11-17 overall and 8-6 in the NE-10, and will now wait to find out its fate for next week's conference championship tournament. Coach Joey Pacis' team is currently in seventh place and eight teams qualify. AIC, with its eighth straight win, improved to 24-5 overall and 11-3 NE-10.
The Falcons were led by junior outside hitter Shannon Kelly (Hyde Park, N.Y./Franklin D. Roosevelt HS), with a season-best 19 kills and 17 digs.
The decisive final set saw the Yellow Jackets jump out to a 4-0 lead, the last two coming on consecutive aces by Kopren. The Falcons closed within one five times, the last at 13-12, but could never completely overcome the opening burst by AIC.
Freshman outside hitter Jana Potic (Belgrade, Serbia) ended the match for the visitors with her third and fourth kills of the final set.
Bentley pulled out a grueling 32-30 win in the opening set, one that was tied 15 times, including on each number from 24 to 30. The Falcons gave the lead back in the second, giving up the final three points after taking a 23-22 lead.
After falling behind 2-1 in the match, Bentley held off AIC with a 4-2 spurt to take the fourth set 25-22 and keep the match alive.
In addition to the strong night by Kelly, Bentley received 13 kills from freshman outside hitter Dani Milner (Plano, Texas/The Greenhill School) and ten from junior middle McKenna Buck (Renton, Wash./Holy Names Acad.). The two also combined for seven block assists, including four by Buck.
Kopren, who also had 14 digs, wasn't the only player to put up big numbers for AIC. Four reached doubles in kills, including sophomore Diva Rivas (Tucson, Ariz.) with 25, and junior Mercy Rivera (Canovanas, P.R.) had 34 digs.