Vendituoli getting her due

Receiving awards and accolades was the norm throughout Erica Vendituoli’s high school career. After two years of fighting for playing time at Bryant University, the Nashua North graduate and 2013 New Hampshire Volleyball Coaches Association Division I Player of the Year is finally starting to feel the love at the
collegiate level.

Twice this fall, Vendituoli was named Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the week. She was also chosen for the Columbia Classic’s All-Tournament team, as well as earning the Bryant Navigant Credit Union athlete of the week.

"Honestly, I’m just really happy to contribute," the Bulldogs’ libero said. "The chance to be on the floor every game and contribute to the success we had as a team is what really drove me this season.

"It’s what makes me want next season to start right now."

Vendituoli was one of three Bulldogs to play in all 34 matches (114 sets). The defensive specialist recorded a team-high 452 digs (3.96 per set) – fifth best in the conference – while helping the Bulldogs lock down their second-straight NEC Tournament appearance after posting their highest regular-season finish at the Division I level (19-15 overall, 10-4 NEC).

Despite the four-set loss to second-seeded LIU Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament semifinals, Vendituoli is thrilled with the result of third-seeded Bryant’s eighth year in Division I. She’s even more excited about what the program’s ninth year could bring.

The Bulldogs return 14 from this season’s roster, which matched their D-I program record for overall wins (19) and conference wins (10).

"I think we had a really good season," the 21-year-old economics major said. "With the group we have coming back we’ll definitely be looking to do more than just make the conference tournament.

"Our goal is to reach the tournament final, and if we win, then we get an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. I think that’s a real possibility with this team."

Vendituoli’s come a long way in just two years at Bryant. From appearing in four matches as a freshman, totalling five digs, to a reserve role as a sophomore – appearing in 17 matches and 31 sets (totaling 38 digs) – she’s grown into a leader for the Bulldogs.

Notes

– Amherst native Devin Gilligan, a 6-foot-5 forward out of Kimball Union Academy, has played a major role in the Southern New Hampshire University men’s basketball team’s 6-0 start to the season.

Heading into Wednesday night’s game at Stonehill, Gilligan has averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, good for second on the team in each category. The senior scored a season-high 24 points in a season-opening 74-68 win over rival Saint Anselm, and has racked up at least 14 points in each contest this year for the 23rd-ranked Penmen.

– Sandi Purcell, of Hudson, scored 11 points, pulled down five rebounds and dished off for a pair of assists in Keene State’s 56-49 win over Worcester State on Tuesday night.

– Merrimack graduate Dimitri Floras, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, has played a major role in the Southern New Hampshire University men’s basketball team’s 6-0 start to the season.

Heading into Wednesday night’s game at Stonehill, Floras has averaged 14.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for the 23rd-ranked Penmen. Floras scored a season-high 19 points in SNHU’s 87-67 victory over Bentley on Saturday and is the team’s third-leading scorer and distributor on the year.

– Merrimack native Amanda Giles provided an assist on the game-winning goal to help Salem State edge St. Michael’s 1-0 on Friday, Dec. 2.

Giles fed Madison Black for the game’s only goal at the 14:38 mark of the second period, boosting the Vikings’ record to 2-5 for the season.

Giles and Salem State play next on Saturday with a trip to Franklin Pierce University for a 2 p.m. faceoff.