WALTHAM, Mass. – On Saturday night, the Bentley University women's volleyball team locked up a berth in the NCAA Division II East Regional when it earned the Northeast-10 Conference's automatic qualifier and tonight they learned who and where they'll be playing.
The Falcons received the number two seed and will face seventh-seeded Holy Family during the opening day of the regional on Thursday, Dec. 5. The eight-team event will be held on Long Island with top-seeded Molloy College serving as the host team.
Bentley, Molloy (East Coast Conference) and Georgian Court (Central Atlantic) were automatic qualifiers while at-large invites went to Holy Family, Bridgeport and a trio of Northeast-10 teams: Adelphi, New Haven and Saint Anselm.
The NCAA appearance is Bentley's 13th all-time and first since 2014. That's the second highest total among current East Region teams, trailing only New Haven's 35.
Bentley, 26-5, has won 21 of its last 22 matches, including a pair of come-from-behind five-setters over the weekend to capture the Northeast-10 Championship. The Falcons overcame a 2-1 deficit to oust Saint Anselm College in the semifinals and recovered in the championship match against American International after trailing 2-0 in sets and 11-5 in the third.
The Falcons earned the conference tournament championship for the first time since 2006 and the NE10 regular season title for the first time since they shared it in 2014. The last two times Bentley won both were in 2001 and 2002 under the tutelage of legendary coach Sandy Hoffman, who led the Falcons to their first 11 NCAA tournament berths.
Bentley, 23-2 against East Region opposition, is one of the most improved teams in the country. The senior-laden Falcons are 13.5 games better than last year when they finished at 11-17.
Pacis, who succeeded the late Hoffman in 2014, received the Northeast-10 Coach of the Year award last week. Senior Xio Lopp (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead HS) was recognized as the NE10 Setter of the Year, freshman Ingrid Murphy (Cotuit/Barnstable HS) was honored as the conference's Rookie of the Year and senior Rachel Bruno (San Diego, Calif./Francis Parker HS) was named the MVP of the NE10 Championships. The All-Conference first team included Lopp, Murphy and senior Dani Milner (Plano, Texas/The Greenhill School).
The other first-round pairings have Molloy against Adelphi, number four Saint Anselm pitted against New Haven for the third time and third-seeded Bridgeport facing Georgian Court in the only quarterfinal that doesn't involve an NE10 team.
The semifinals will be Friday, Dec. 6 and the regional final the following night with a trip to the Elite Eight in Denver Dec. 12-14.
NCAA DIVISION II EAST REGIONAL
At Molloy College, Rockville Centre, N.Y.
Quarterfinals – Thursday, Dec. 5
No. 1 Molloy (25-4) vs. No. 8 Adelphi (14-10)
No. 2 Bentley (26-5) vs. No 7 Holy Family (24-9)
No. 3 Bridgeport (24-7) vs. No. 6 Georgian Court (30-6)
No. 4 Saint Anselm (20-11) vs. No. 5 New Haven (16-10)
Semifinals – Friday, Dec. 6
Molloy/Adelphi winner vs. Saint Anselm/New Haven winner
Bentley/Holy Family winner vs. Bridgeport/Georgian Court winner
Championship – Saturday, Dec. 7
Winner advances to championship in Denver Dec. 12-14