Nov. 22, 2008
MOON TOWNSHIP, PA - Martina Racic led a balanced Long Island University attack with 11 kills and nine digs, while the Blackbirds piled up 15 blocks to lead the #2 seed past #6 Sacred Heart University in a semi-final game of the Northeast Conference Tournament Saturday night.
The loss ends a Pioneer season that saw them compile a school Division I record 18 wins and reach the semi-final round of the NEC Tournament for the first time. SHU finishes the year 18-13, while LIU improves to 18-11 with the win and will face #4 Saint Francis (PA) in the final tomorrow afternoon. The winner gets the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA National Tournament.
The first set was a close one and the Pioneers overcame an early deficit to even the score at 10 and continue to hold the lead for the remainder, finishing on three straight points, including two kills from freshman Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula, CA) and an ace from senior Lynne Principio (Ardsley, NY), playing in the final match of her four-year career.
LIU responded in frame two, taking off to a 15-8 lead and forcing SHU to take a timeout. The Blackbirds built a bigger cushion, upping the score to 21-13 before notching the final four points and the set, 25-13.
The third and fourth sets were similar, as LIU went ahead and maintained the lead through a solid defensive effort and an efficient offense. With a 22-13 margin in the final set, the Pioneers saw some light with a kill and an ace from Trimble, but Rice secured the 25-16 victory and the bid to the championship match with a kill of her own.
Trimble led the Pioneer attack with 14 kills and 14 digs, while fellow freshman Brittany Best (Norco, CA) had ten kills and nine digs. Sophomore Courtney Kidd-Kadlubek (Santa Barbara, CA) added 40 more assists to her ledger and finish her school record-breaking year with 1127 helpers. She has 1955 in her two-year career, already the fourth highest total ever at Sacred Heart.
Freshman Maile Hetherington (Thousand Oaks, CA) had nine kills in the final match, giving her 389 for the year - the third best single-season total ever at SHU. Freshman Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) had 19 more digs for the Pioneers and extended her school record to 444.