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Brooklyn, NY – The Sacred Heart Pioneers made it two in a row as they collected the 2011 Women’s Volleyball Tournament championship trophy for the second straight year but it was not without a fight. Facing the team in which they shared the regular season title with, the Pioneer’s bested the Long Island Blackbirds in a back-and-forth affair that ended with SHU taking home the championship trophy in four matches (25-23, 17-25, 27-25, 25-15). The squad will advance to the first round of the 2011 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. The selection show is slated for Sunday, Nov. 27 at 6:00 p.m. on ESPNU.
Picking up critical points to earn big swings in momentum was the name of the game for the Pioneers as the team recorded 73 digs and 53 on the whole. Critical to several of these big points was fifth year senior and tournament MVP Kimmee Roleder (Pasadena, CA/Pasadena) who came up huge in several tight moments. After missing her senior year because of injury the championship means even more to Roleder, “I was just exited to play again. I wanted to get better as I knew I was coming onto a great team.,” she said, “It’s amazing to be a part something so special.” Roleder finished the day with 17 kills and 14 digs. Elise Sage (Greenwood Vilage, CO/Cherry Creek) also earned All-Tournament honors after she recorded a .419 hitting clip.
Head Coach Rob Machan also was thrilled at the outcome of the night, “Long Island was phenomenal tonight,” “Our girls worked the whole way through, they earned it. I’m very, very proud of them.”
Long Island gave everything they had against the Pioneers especially in the opening set where they collected the first four points off of the serve of 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year Annika Foit (Hausach, Germany/Robert-Gerwig-Gymasium). But Sacred Heart answered right back with four of their own points to knot the score 4-4. With the score tied at 23 Sage knocked down a kill to give the Pioneers the one point advantage and the first set. Jessica Colberg (Long Beach, CA/Long Beach Polytechnic) led SHU with 10 digs while Dianis Mercado (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico/Colegio Marista) posted a .333 hitting percentage to start things off.
Much like the first set LIU came out guns blazing only to have the Pioneer’s come back to tie it up once again. After trading points for much of the second set NEC Player of the Year Hanna Gibeau (Arvada, CO/Ralston Valley) smashed a huge kill as the Blackbirds took a 17-14 lead. Junior Sapphire Reid (Cooperas Cove, TX/Hill College) then notched two consecutive kills of her own putting the ball in the hands of senior Ashley Rice (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) who earned the team five straight points, and the win in game two. Rice also contributed defensively in the second set, recording five blocks.
Game three proved to be just as exciting as the score was knotted for most of the set. With the game tied at 23, SHU junior Johanna Ovsenek (London, Ontario/Saunders Secondary) recorded a huge kill to put the Pioneers ahead by one, but the Blackbirds responded to tie the score. Roleder then came up with a clutch kill of her own to give the Pioneer’s the 25-24 lead. Colberg then posted a service ace for the Pioneer’s to take set three.
The Pioneer’s reversed the trend in the fourth set and charged out to a 3-1 lead only to have the Blackbirds tie it at three apiece. After continuing to trade points Colberg tipped the ball over the net to earn the Pioneer’s a critical point at the 19-14 mark following an extended rally to give the Pioneer’s the final push of momentum. Mercado finished things up by posting the final kill of the game to give the Pioneers the Championship.
Earning All-Tournament honors for the Blackbirds was Gibeau who recorded 15 kills, 10 digs, and three blocks and Jessica Rice (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) after she totaled 12 blocks and hit at a .471 clip.
Northeast Conference All-Tournament Team
Hannah Veith- Robert Morris
Emily Cochran- Central Connecticut State
Jessica Rice– Long Island
Hanna Gibeau – Long Island
Elise Sage – Sacred Heart
Kimmee Roleder – Sacred Heart*
*Denotes Tournament MVP
2011 Northeast Conference
Women's Volleyball Championship
Hosted by Long Island University - Brooklyn, NY
All matches to be streamed live on NortheastConference.TV
You can also watch on your mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad and Android phones,
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Click here for Championship program (PDF)
Click here for Tournament preview
Click here for All-Conference release