Nov. 19, 2007
Tournament MVP Nadiege Honore had 21 kills and 16 digs keying an improbable comeback that sent the Siena volleyball team to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season and fourth time overall. The Saints rallied past Fairfield in five games (20-30, 30-26, 27-30, 30-26, 15-12) to complete a MAAC Championship threepeat before a nationally televised audience Monday at rowdy Alumni Hall.
"It's unbelievable. To win in this gym, in this atmosphere, I can't describe it," MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Burgandy McCurty said following the 2 hour and 40 minute struggle.
The script played out as it has the last three seasons. The two teams exchanged blows in a seesaw affair with the outcome in the balance until the Saints turned back a Fairfield attack to post the final point. Siena has now handed Fairfield heartbreaking 3-2 defeats in the title match each of the last three seasons.
"It's never easy, but every time is just as exciting," an exuberant Garvey Pierre said following the match. Pierre has orchestrated the title runs after inheriting a program in 2002 that had gone six seasons without tasting a championship.
Trailing two games to one, Siena pulled even with a 30-26 win in game four.
Perhaps haunted by memories from the last two conference championships, Fairfield staggered at the start of the fifth game and the opportunistic Saints took advantage. Siena jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed, though Fairfield closed to 13-12 and had a chance to tie the game before sophomore Kau'i Robello made a key dig and perfect pass that resulted in a McCurty kill that set up double-match point.
McCurty had 24 kills and just two errors, dominating the middle as she has all season. Freshman Aubrey Bobo had 18 kills and 20 digs for her 10th double-double of the year, adding balance to the outside. Captain Kelly Hummel also finished in double figures with 10 kills. Setter April London played through a strict whistle to post 67 assists and 13 digs.
Honore started slowly - committing three of her seven attack errors in the first game. But when it mattered most, her soaring swing produced 10 kills in the final two games.
Both teams played exceptional defense, combining for 217 digs. Siena libero Kathi Kobayashi led the effort with 28 digs, Robello had 24.
Fairfield senior Kelly Oliver collected a match-high 26 kills to go along with 26 digs in one of the top efforts of her career. Katie Mann had 16 kills and five blocks in defeat.
Fairfield claimed the first game 30-20 with an efficient attack that registered a .419 hitting percentage. The Saints rallied for a 30-26 win in game two, but lost the third game 30-27.
It was the first time this season Siena has won after trailing 2-1, and the team's first win in a match that went the distance all year.
McCurty and Hummel joined Honore on the MAAC All-Tournament team. Mann and Barbie Thistle were named to the team for Fairfield
The fourth NCAA appearance is the most by any of Siena's 18 Division I sports.
The Saints will learn where they play next on Sunday at 8 p.m. when the 64-team NCAA field is unveiled on ESPNU.