Nov. 22, 2009
BROOKLYN, NY - The Sacred Heart women's volleyball team reached the Northeast Conference championship game for the first time this season and were pitted against top-seeded Long Island University Sunday afternoon. The Blackbirds continued their perfect run through the NEC by defeating the Pioneers 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-21).
LIU took an early lead in the first set, and though SHU brought the score within three on two different occasions, they never recovered the rest of the game. The numbers were close for both teams, but LIU held the biggest edge in hitting percentage with .250 compared the SHU's .103, led by this year's tournament MVP sophomore Ashley Rice.
In the second stanza, Sacred Heart took an early 2-0 lead and the teams fought a hard back and forth battle with the Pioneers eventually working out a 9-5 edge. Long Island hung tough and eventually tied the set at 14-14 on a kill by NEC Player of the Year Svetlana Simic.
LIU extended its lead to 18-16 before the Pioneers rallied to tie with two straight points. A pair of Simic kills and an error by SHU pushed the Blackbirds ahead 21-18 and LI was able to fend off a late charge to earn the 25-20 win.
In the third set of the 71-minute match it was LIU who took the early lead at 3-0 after Rice slammed two strong kills down on the Pioneer side. The Blackbirds extended their lead to 16-8 in what seemed to be the start of their run to the crown, but SHU scored 11 of the next 14 points to fix the score at 19-19.
Simic tallied a kill to give the Blackbirds back their lead, which was followed by a Maile Hetherington (Thousand Oaks, CA) kill from the other side. LIU senior Martina Racic hit back-to-back kills before SHU had an attacking error that put the Blackbirds up 23-20. LIU then recorded an error of their own just before Simic finished out the match with the last two points for a 25-21 topping.
In front of a crowd of 385, SHU's Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA) notched a team-high 18 digs while sophomore all-tournament teamer Ashlyn Trimble (Temecula) tallied a team-best 13 kills. NEC Setter of the Year Courtney Kidd-Kadlubek racked up the most helpers (33) for the Pioneers.
In a match that marked LIU's 18th win in the last 19 games, Simic finished with a team-high 12 kills, while classmate Dunja Milin, another all-tournament team selection, had 29 assists, while sophomore Chelsey Stanton had the most digs (14).