BENNINGTON -- Even though it's his first year leading the Southern Vermont College women's volleyball team, Mountaineers coach Deon Jones wanted to continue the winning tradition of the past couple of seasons at SVC.
His top-seeded squad did that in a convincing way on Friday night in the semifinals of the New England Collegiate Conference tournament, sweeping Daniel Webster, 3-0, to advance to Saturday's final.
"It was expected," said Jones, whose team improves to 11-8 overall with the win. "We [went] in with a gameplan, and I said that we can't deviate from that. They stayed focused on the task at hand."
The set scores were 25-12, 25-16 and 25-12.
With the bleachers packed at the Mountaineer Athletic Center, the Mountaineers came out on fire, scoring the first six points and 12 of the first 13, forcing Daniel Webster coach Braden Zamore to use a timeout to regroup his troops.
The Mountaineers continued to take it to the Eagles, not allowing them to get on a run. On one play, junior outside hitter Jessica Delgado placed a kill right on the line for a point, then moments later, did the same thing on the far sideline.
The Mountaineers finished the set with a nice block at the net to take the set.
"We've been practicing hard in placing the ball, making them work harder," Delgado said. "We wanted to take it in 3, and we did it, we got the result that we wanted."
Delgado led the Mountaineers with 11 kills and only two errors in 38 total attacks. As a team, SVC hit .211 with 36 kills.
"The last time we won in four sets, but we were playing soft," Jones said. "This time we were being more aggressive. Not just aggressive, but putting the ball in the right spot."
In the second set, SVC trailed early, but tied the set at 6-6. After a long rally, the Mountaineers scored the next six points. Daniel Webster pulled to 14-11 after SVC hit into the net, but the Mountaineers outscored them 11-5 the rest of the way to take a commanding advantage.
They were led in the second set by setter Sheilani Kaleopa, who led the team with 27 assists.
"She did a wonderful job, she led us as outside hitters and the sets were there," Delgado said.
One of her best plays was a fake set, and a left-handed drop shot in between three Eagles for a point.
"In that particular moment, she saw it open," Jones said. "The right back and left back are close to the sidelines, so it forces them to collapse on defense, once they do that, they start creeping [in], and it got them on their heels."
The third set was academic as SVC ran out to a 16-4 advantage. On the final points, Delgado served back-to-back aces as part of six on the night.
Now the Mountaineers will host the final at 2 p.m. against Regis.
"My goal was to keep the tradition alive. I feel like we're on a good start here," Jones said. "We won the semi, now we're in the finals. We have to stay focused, go in calm and collected and do what we've been doing."