The Central Connecticut volleyball team came up just short in the 2017 Northeast Conference championship falling in five hard-fought sets to LIU Brooklyn which won its fifth NEC Title in the last six years. CCSU won the second and fourth sets 26-24 and 25-21, respectivley, and LIU won the first, third and final set 25-20, 26-24 and 15-12.
CCSU concludes its 2017 campaign with an overall record of 19-8 and a share of the 2017 NEC regular season title with a conference record of 11-3. CCSU was led by sophomore Madelyn Kaprelyan with 18 kills and sophomore Erin McDermott with 28 assists.
Following a CCSU timeout with LIU ahead 15-11 in the first set, the Blackbirds maintained the momentum to take the first set, 25-20. The Blue Devils cut the deficit to 22-19 on a kill by Kaprelyan, but eight errors plagued Central in the set.
After trailing by as many as seven points in the second set, the Blue Devils started chipping away at the LIU lead and made their way back to within three points, 15-12. Freshman Emma Henderson, who ended the night with 16 kills, ignited what would be an 11-2 game-winning run in set two. Down 22-15, Henderson fired up the Blue Devils with back-to-back kills. LIU committed 11 errors in the set, including seven during the CCSU run. Both Henderson and Woycik led Central with four kills apiece and Kushman distributed seven assists to even the match 1-1.
The Blue Devils and Blackbirds traded points for the entire third set featuring four lead changes and 13 score ties. The score stayed within two points until LIU ran off a 4-0 run to take a 20-16 lead. The Blue Devils cut the lead back down to 20-19. CCSU would call a timeout after LIU built a 22-19 lead. Freshman Samantha McCreath unleashed a monster swing that would spark a CCSU 4-0 run. LIU faced set point before answering the call with four points of its own to take the set, 26-24.
Central trailed in the fourth set, 16-12, before rolling off four straight points to tie the score. The Blue Devils would score the final three points to win the set, 25-21, and send the match to a deciding set.
In the fifth set, LIU Brooklyn raced out to a 6-1 lead, before McDermott found Kaprelyan on the right side who ended the drought. Facing deficit at 10-4 the Blue Devils converted consecutive kills from Woycik and Smith to force an LIU timeout. Central would close within, 13-11, with three straight points, but the Blackbirds would manage to hold off the rally and win the set, 15-12, to win the match.
LIU Brooklyn advances to 20-9 overall and earns the league's bid to the NCAA Tournament. The field will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 26, during the selection show.
The Blue Devils finish the season at 19-8 overall and earned a share of the NEC regular-season title.