QUINCY, Mass. - Nighthawks junior Joshua Thorne (Oxford, Mass.) finished with a double-double of a match-high 13 kills to go along with 12 digs as the Newbury Nighthawks defeated the Eastern Nazarene Lions 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-19), avenging a pair of 3-2 regular season losses on Tuesday night at Lahue PE Center in the Quarterfinals of the New England Collegiate Conference Playoffs.
Thorne's 13 kills are a career-playoff high, as his .231 hitting percentage was also a match-best. Nighthawks freshman Matt Sepe (Cranston, R.I.) added five kills and 15 digs, while senior Nile Fox (Hampton, Va.) finished with six kills and six digs.
Lions junior Kenny Sorensen (Quincy, Mass.) finished with a team-high 10 kills and 14 digs. Freshman Derek Fowler (Williamstown, N.J.) finished with seven kills and three aces. Junior Matthew Tyree (Lansdale, Pa.) finished with a double-double at 23 assists and 10 digs.
In the opening set, the Nighthawks took advantage of a number of Lions errors that came early in the set, keeping the score close. It wasn't until an 8-2 Nighthawks run that created separation, giving the Nighthawks a 20-15 lead. The Lions rebounded to within three, but a Thorne kill ended the set, 25-21. Thorne had four kills in the opening stanza.
In the second, the Nighthawks offense found a more consistent rhythm, finishing the set with 14 total kills, opposed to the five in the opening set. The Lions offense hung in tough, matching the Nighthawks for much of the set. Another scoring run, this time of 7-2 for the Nighthawks, created the separation needed to swing momentum as the Nighthawks led 20-14. The Nighthawks again held off a Lions run and the final three points favored the Nighthawks for a 25-20 win.
In the final set, the Nighthawks seized all momentum to this point, starting the set with a 12-4 lead. The Lions, as they had before, managed to cut the deficit, this time to five at 21-16. Two Thorne kills and two Lions errors finally finished the contest with the Nighthawks grabbing a 25-19.
The Nighthawks victory moves them to the NECC Semifinals for the first time since 2015. Waiting for them is the top-seeded Endicott College Gulls, who have not lost a conference match since March 7, 2016.
The NECC Semifinal is scheduled for Thursday evening at Endicott's MacDonald Gym with the first serve scheduled for 7:00 p.m.