NEC regular season champions LIU Brooklyn and #Central Connecticut both emerged victorious in Saturday's semifinal matches and will meet on Sunday in NEC Women's Volleyball Tournament Championship in Brooklyn, NY. The top-seeded Blackbirds defeated #4 Saint Francis, 3-1, while. CCSU, the #3 seed, ousted #2 Robert Morris also by a score of 3-1. The two teams will take the floor at the WRAC at 3:00 pm with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The match can be viewed live on NECFrontRow.com.
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#1 LIU Brooklyn 3, #4 Saint Francis 1 (PA) (28-30, 25-18, 25-16, 25-14)
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Brooklyn, NY – Top-seeded LIU Brooklyn advances to its second consecutive NEC women's volleyball championship final following a 3-1 (28-30, 25-18, 25-16, 25-14) victory over #4 Saint Francis (PA), in the first of two finals on Saturday afternoon on Blackbirds' home court at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center in Brooklyn, NY.
All-Conference first team selection Tamara Ignjic (Belgrade, Serbia/First Economic) led all athletes on the day with 19 total kills while also adding four blocks. Her teammates, 2012 NEC Player of the Year Annika Foit (Hausach, Germany/Robert-Gerwig-Gymnasium)and Setter of the Year Vera Djuric (Lazarevac, Serbia/Svetozar Markovic) chipped in 18 kills and 49 blocks, respectively. NEC All-Conference first team selection Elizabeth Williams (North Bend, OH/Saint Ursula) notched 13 kills for the Red Flash.
Saint Francis jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first two points of the match. The Red Flash would lead for most of the first stanza until the Blackbirds tied up the score at 18. The set was back and forth the rest of the way, with the Red Flash earning five set-point opportunities before taking the first, 30-28. Williams led the Red Flash in kills with five, while Kayla Jeckell (Mountaintop, PA/Crestwood) and Lauren Wingard (York, PA/Dallastown Area) each chipped in four.
The Blackbirds started the second set with three straight points, setting the tone for the rest of the game. LIU Brooklyn lead for the duration of the stanza, though the Red Flash cut the lead to three several times throughout. Ignjic notched seven kills for the Blackbirds who took the set 25-18.
It was a back and forth affair in the beginning of the third set, but LIU Brooklyn took the lead at 7-6 and did not look back. The Blackbirds scored seven straight points before taking the stanza at 25-16, leady by Foit and freshman Mirjana Rajic. In fourth game, LIU moved ahead at 3-1 and held the lead for the rest of the set, before taking the set 25-14 to seal the semifinal victory.
#3 Central Connecticut 3, #2 Robert Morris 1 (25-23, 25-17, 13-25, 25-21)
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Brooklyn, NY -- It was a close match throughout during the second volleyball championship semifinal, but #3 Central Connecticut topped #2 Robert Morris, 3-1, (25-23, 25-17, 13-25, 25-21) to earn a spot in the title match on Sunday afternoon.
NEC All-Conference second team selection Emily Cochran (Adel, IA/Adel-DeSoto-Minburn) and Blaike King (Carson City, NV/Carson) each notched 19 kills in the victory for the Blue Devils, while NEC Rookie of the Year Makenna Lommori led all players with 45 assists. All-Conference Second Team selection Becky Jay (Parma OH/Padua Franciscan) tallied 10 blocks and eight kills for the Colonials.
The Blue Devils took the first point of the match, before they found themselves tied with Robert Morris at 3-3. The Colonials then took the lead, but Central Connecticut was never more than three points behind. The Blue Devils took the lead at 23-22 before going on to win the first stanza at 25-23. King tallied five kills for Central Connecticut, while Amanda Craig (Houston, TX/St. Agnes Academy) chipped in four for the Colonials in the first. Una Japundza (Rovinj, Croatia/Zvane Crnja) notched five block assists.
Central Connecticut dominated the first half of the second set, and led by as many as six one point. But Robert Morris continued to fight, cutting the lead down to one at 14-15. But the Blue Devils pulled away, scoring four straight after being 21-17 at a timeout, to win the set. NEC All-Conference second team selection Emily Cochran (Adel, IA/Adel-DeSoto-Minburn) recorded five kills and three digs for the Blue Devils in the second set.
The Colonials were not finished yet, however, storming back in the third set on a 12-1 run backed by a big blocking performance, including five from Jay, the NEC's leader in blocks, . Central Connecticut was able to cut the lead in half, but it was not enough as the Colonials led the entire way before taking the set 25-13 to get right back in the match.
As expected, the fourth set was a battle as the two squads kept it close the entire game. Central Connecticut went on a 3-0 run toward the middle of the set to lead 16-13. But Robert Morris answered right back to cut the lead down to one at 19-18, before tying the score at 20-20 to keep the Blue Devils on edge. Central Connecticut was able to hold on, however, to take the fourth set 25-21.
The Blue Devils will take on LIU Brooklyn Sunday in the Championship match at 3:00 pm.