Nov. 17, 2013
The Siena volleyball team will be forced to watch the MAAC Tournament from its own bleachers next weekend. The Saints won 10 of their first 11 league matches and four straight to end the year, including Sunday's Senior Day sweep of Saint Peter's (25-23, 25-20 and 25-23), but a four-match losing streak to the four teams that advanced to the Championship proved too much to overcome.
Siena's finishes the year 13-5 in the MAAC (14-14 overall), becoming the first team ever with six or fewer losses to miss out on qualifying for the four-team Championships.
The Saints are on the outside looking in after losing a complicated three-way tie-breaker for third place with Iona and Manhattan due to total sets won in the six matches between the schools.
Sunday's results also marked the end of the road for sensational senior Taylor Akana. Akana finishes her stellar career ranked second on Siena's all-time kills charts (1,700) and fourth in digs (1,370). The Senior CLASS Award candidate was honored as MAAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 and MAAC Rookie of the Year in 2010, but she will graduate without a MAAC Championship, having advanced as far as the finals last year.
Akana led the way for Siena on Senior Day, posting a match-high 14 kills.
Junior middle hitter Jacqueline Skeen killed 12 of her 19 swings without an error, and promising freshman Haley Howell handed out 36 assists. Meghann Wright finished fine weekend and season on the right side with nine kills and 12 digs. Those three are part of an exciting mix of returnees that includes 10 underclassmen.
Sunday's match was much closer than expected, as Saint Peter's (4-28, 2-16) battled from start to finish. The result was three tight sets, but Siena managed to pull out all three late.
Defending MAAC Champion Fairfield earned the #1 seed in the upcoming Championships with a four-set come-from-behind win at Canisius Sunday. Had the Stags lost (and they dropped the first set 25-14), Siena would have been dancing and the Stags would have been eliminated. That's how close the race for the regular-season crown was.
The Stags finished tied with Marist atop the standings (14-4), a single game ahead of Iona, Manhattan and Siena.