Dowling 3, Bentley 2

Nov. 19, 2005

SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- Justyna Michon registered 23 kills and Irina Belozerova added 21 kills as top-seeded Dowling held on to defeat third-seeded Bentley College, 3-2 to capture the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship Saturday evening at Bryant's Chace Athletic Center. The Golden Lions (33-8) will move on to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in school history where they will face the winner of the Great Lakes Region on December 1.

In the regional championship Saturday, Dowling struggled from the start as Bentley surprised the top-seed with a 30-26 win in the first game. The Falcons started strong in the second, jumping out to an 11-5 lead before Dowling started to heat up.

Consecutive service aces from Nikki Armstrong pulled Dowling to within 10-11 and after a block from Marta Slodnik and Armstrong, the Golden Lions led 20-16. Another block from Armstrong gave Dowling game-point, 29-25, but Bentley would pull to within 29-28 before Michon would put away a hard kill, giving the Golden Lions a 30-28 win.

Dowling would use the momentum and take game four, 30-23, but Bentley would not go away just yet, picking up a big 30-26 win in the fourth game, forcing a fifth and decisive game. The Falcons, who needed five games to defeat second-seeded Bryant University in the semifinals Friday night, led 25-13 before a 12-3 run by Dowling put the Golden Lions back into the match. But back-to-back kills up front from Christina Sadowski helped Bentley pull away for a hard-fought 30-26 win.

In the fifth, both teams traded points early, but Dowling had too many offensive weapons, building an 8-4 lead at the switch and leading 14-11 at match point, Belozerova closed the door on the Falcons with a kill down the middle, sending the Golden Lions to their first Elite Eight.

Michon hit .449 offensively for Dowling while Slodnik added seven kills and 19 digs. Dowling out-blocked Bentley 10 to 8 in the match.

Bentley (29-8) was led by Amber Gracey's 18 kills and 18 digs. Susan Harrahy had 16 kills and 13 digs while Katie Markstein added 23 digs defensively. Christina Sadowski had 11 kills and six blocks.

-- Courtesy Bryant