Knights volleyball defeated Great Bay at home

On Thursday Oct. 13, NECC Knights defeated Great Bay Community College three sets to one.

The Knights lost set one 25-20 and came back to win the next three sets, set two 25-21, set three 26-24 and on the fourth set 25-15.

The game officially started 6:32 pm.

The Knights scored the first three points of the game before Great Bay scored the next three to tie it up at 3.

The Knights were up 7 to 5 before Great Bay evened the score apart at 7.

The Knights were down a point when Ashley Dominguez of Lawrence tied the game at 11.

It was a good battle early in the contest between these two teams.

The Knights were looking to get themselves into the game when Caroline Burns of Haverhill spiked the ball to make it 19-17 still in favor of Great Bay.

Great Bay was on a run against the Knights as the Knights fell short 25-20 in the first set.

“Definitely, the first set I felt it was a little rocky but I feel like the girls definitely pulled out of a hole they were in when it comes to point,” said assistant head coach Marissa Reardon.

In the second set the Knights were up 3-2 when Great Bay called an unusual early timeout way too quickly in the second set.

After the time out Great Bay went on a 5-0 run against the Knights.

After that the Knights scored the next three to put this game 7 to 6. Great Bay missed up the order to tie the game up at seven.

The Knights was up 12 to 9 when Ashley  Martinez of Lawrence hit the ball and the ball barely went in to make it 13 to 9.

The momentum shifted he Knights’ way as they started to get into a run and were looking to blow it open in the second set.

The Knights were winning 13 to 9 as they increased that lead to 20 to 14. The Knights were five points away from winning the set.

The Knights increased their lead to 8, that lead Great Bay to shorten that lead a little bit but the Knights won the second set 25-21 to tie the series up 1-1.

“The second set it was a lot better they fixed a lot of the mistakes that we talked about in between the sets and I thought it went really well,” Reardon said.

In the third set Martinez did a great save from preventing Great Bay from scoring to make it 2-0 in favor of the Knights. Great Bay went on a 7-0 run before coach Reardon called a time out.

Kathleen Perez Flores of Lowell made it 11-9, she tip  the ball with both of her hands up and the ball went in.

The Knights were up 16 to 14 but eventually Great Bay tied up at 17.

The Knights were up 19 to 17 before Great Bay tied the game and took a 20- 19 lead.

At the end of the third set it got pretty intense as the Knights defeated Great Bay 26-24 in the third set.

In the fourth set with the Knights winning  two set to one over Great Bay.

The Knights were down 8 to 6 before they tied the game and took the lead 9 to 8.

When the Knights have that 9 to 8 lead Great Bay had no chance to defeat the Knights.

The Knights went on a 10-2 run against Great Bay to put this game at 19 to 10 as the Knights were 6 points away from winning the set.

Great Bay was looking for a comeback but the Knights would not allow that to happen in their house as the Knights defeated Great Bay 25 to 15.

Knights Men’s Basketball media day for 2022-23 season

On Wednesday Oct. 12, the NECC Knight’s men’s basketball held media day at 3 p.m. in the Sport and Fitness center in the Haverhill campus.

Their 2022-23 campaign is set to begin on Nov. 4 against New Hampshire Tech at 7:15 p.m. The Knights will play the first six games on the road before their home opener on Nov. 17 against Quincy College.

Ashton Ventola of Danville, N.H., played 23 games for the Knights last season. He is currently majoring in exercise science transfer.

Ventola said he is working hard during the offseason to get prepared for the season. “Just keeping my body right, definitely been incorporating a lot more weight training. I’ve gained fifteen pounds of muscle in the offseason definitely a significant increase,” he said. “Just also keep hitting the gym and just keep my work ethic up you know working on my skills, my ball handling, my guard skills, shooting, finishing around the rim all of that stuff like that.”

Ventola is most looking forward this upcoming season to winning Region 21 and make it to the nationals. “…We know we can make it there, we can compete I’m just trying to do my part to help my team win…”he said.

A personal goal for Ventola that he has for this upcoming season is working on his game and transferring to a four-year school to continue playing basketball.

I asked Ventola of how he thinks his experience is going to be playing in Long Island, N.Y., and in Newark, N.J., as the Knights is set to play a weekend match against Suffolk County Community College and Essex County College.

“Is going to be fun that’s all I got to say, make some noise, you know help my team make some noise, you know put us in the map outside of Region 21, the end goal like I said win a championship and my own goal is to move on to a four year. I know I can, my teammates know I can (there are) new faces this year… the mission is the same go get that chip” Ventola said.

Mike Diaz of Lawrence is a freshman business transfer major. He told me that he has been playing basketball since he was 6-years-old.  “I had no offers coming into NECC and I chose this because my previous basketball coach told me this is going to be a great opportunity for me and NECC basketball coach took me in and it was history ever since that,” he said.

A skill that he has  that it could be a game changer is his sportsmanship and his communication communications, he said. “ I feel like my sportsmanship is top tier and my communication skills and I am a leader even though I am one of the younger guys I still have that leadership from me coming from high skills and I feel that could help the team,” Diaz said.

He is most looking forward during the season is to get better everyday and to have as much film as possible.

Darlin Santiago of Salem he is a freshman a newcomer for the Knights majoring in business.

NECC Knights 2022-23 team photo during media day
NECC Knights 2022-23 team photo during media day Photo by Editor-in-Chief/ Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez

He told me that he had other offers to play somewhere else. “I (have) been playing basketball since I was 5 years old,” Santiago said. “I had other offers other JUCCOS, COVID year missed up my grades so this is one of the best options I had so that’s why I picked Northern Essex,” he said.

A skill that he has on the table is he can find guys that are open so he can pass it to his teammates and score on open shots, he said.

He is working on his defense and his conditioning to improve before Nov. 4, which is the Knights first game of the season.

He is most looking forward to having that bond with his teammates and knowing the coaches better.

Philip Cunningham of Haverhill is a business major in his second year for the Knights as he is getting ready for the upcoming season last season he played 26 games.

“I really just being in the gym lifting, going on workouts and playing more for my teammates and others to be prepared for the season,” he said.

Other than wining region 21 Cunningham is looking for his team to go undefeated.

NECC Knights men’s basketball  head coach is Darren Stratton, Stratton last season took the Knights to the Region 21 championship game.

I asked him if he had enough sleep during the offseason and hopefully the team that he and his coaching staff have has improved from the previous season.

“Yeah I think my biggest thing Jose, was I didn’t get enough sleep during the offseason part of coaching is once one season is over the another one begins,” said Stratton. “You know the lost to CCRI (Community College of Rode Island)in the Regional championship game kinda motivate us a little bit more in the aspect knowing what type of kids that we need to recruit what type of players we needed to add to the upcoming roster in order to get better … I’m excited for the upcoming 2022-23 season and hopefully we can build upon that is a new season and hopefully we can grow as a basketball team,” he said.

Stratton and I talked a little bit about the roster and how a certain player made the roster and also the decision of cutting players.

“… We (are) carrying a really large number this year. We (are)carrying 21 guys that we felt that we had close to 40 kids ether involved or trying to try out. We cut down to 21 kids but we (are) holding a couple of redshirt candidates as well, (those kids are) going to practice with us but not be able to play during the games, so I am a little skeptical carrying such a large number of our kids but we are going to try to work on the aspect of, give the guys the reps that we think they are going to play a lot and continue with it, while maybe those other guys that are in the bench could earn a spot or earn some time in the basketball court but right now we (are)carrying 21 guys so that’s what we going to continue with for the upcoming season …” Stratton said.

“Yes it is extremely difficult (cutting players) I’m going to be honest with you that’s the worst part of this job is making those tough decisions to try to put a team together. Sometimes I learned over the years I used to try to keep all of the best players and I was pretty successful so I tried to find an even balance of hardworking kids, talented players and try to find the right balance for that. Also I take into account that if I think a player is going to make the team but not seeing a lot of playing time as potential down the road I will probably have not played this year so we can develop (them) and make an easy transition for next year…” Stratton said.

Stratton also kept all of his returns that were on the last season and had an honest conversation with some of them.

Stratton told me that right now the team is figuring out their way to work as a team as a whole and be united.

Stratton is excited that the team is going to a weekend in New York and in  New Jersey to play two different college basketball teams. “I’m excited about it Dan (Blair) and I had a conversation at the end of the season with us losing the region championship we were up for a large bid for the national tournament and the one knock on us was that we didn’t play (a) tough enough schedule,” he said. “Our strength schedule was weak they didn’t consider the teams from New Hampshire Tech conference as reliable opponents so what we did is Dan (Blair) and I sat down and we tried to create one of the toughest schedules that we can play. Inn order to do that you have to play teams that were out of your Region that are Region 15, some rank opponents and that’s what we trying to do. Going down to Long Island in New York to play Suffolk (County Community College) is going to be extremely difficult but what I think the kids is going to be up for the challenge and travel to division two Essex (County College) which have all scholarship kids is going to be difficult for us there but I think also is going to be extremely beneficial for us because it is going to put us on an overnight trip where we are forced to get a long and get a chance to know each other better by being on those trips. I’m looking forward to it… Stratton said.

Stratton and I talked about TD Turkey Classic that is going to take place during Thanksgiving weekend.

“Dan (Blair) and I, that’s another thing Dan wanted to do, he’s been a fabulous AD I couldn’t ask for a better athletic director to work for. I (have) worked for four different ones here at the college. So Dan and I got a great relationship in the aspect of he wants the best of the student athletes not only athletics but academically, also he wants the opportunity to play top notch programs so Dan asked my opinion on the Turkey Classic in Thanksgiving and I was all in and all for it from the beginning and we will able to get Suffolk up here and (SUNY) Adirondack, top two programs out of New York to come up here and play what I think one of the top teams in our region with us and Bunker Hill I think coming here and being able to compete against them is only beneficial for our Region to show what capable talent our region has as well…” Stratton said.