Nov. 24, 2008
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - Siena's volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year. Junior Burgandy McCurty and senior captain Kelly Hummel made sure of it with a 3-0 pasting of rival Fairfield in the MAAC title match Monday night on UHY Court in Loudonville.
McCurty, the Tournament MVP and two-time MAAC Offensive Player of the year, posted 13 kills - modest by her standards - but collected 12 digs to help key the win. Hummel also had 13 kills for the Saints.
It's the fourth straight year Siena has defeated Fairfield in the title match, but the first time the Saints have captured the crown on their home court since 1996.
"That was really sweet," said Siena head coach Garvey Pierre who won his 100th match in his sixth season at Siena Monday night. "When we had three (championships) in a row, I said it would be good to have four in a row."
Siena erased a 16-10 deficit in the first set, tying the score at 23-23 on a Hummel kill. They then staved off a set point to tie the match again at 24-24 before winning successive points on a McCurty kill and an ace by sophomore Amanda Begin to claim the most competitive set 27-25.
The Saints coasted in the second set, building a 15-5 lead before holding off a Fairfield charge for a 25-17 win. The third set was back-and-forth and remained tied at 23-23 before Hummel finished a kill on the outside to set up match point. The final point was decided when Fairfield setter Lauren Balmert attempted to dump the ball over her left shoulder only to see the ball sail just wide.
Siena owned a 45-34 advantage in kills and 58-53 edge in blocks. They also out-hit the Stags .222-.179 and held a 7-5 lead in aces. Begin had four of the Saints aces, including two straight in a critical spot late in the third set.
The MAAC title is the eight for Siena's storied volleyball program which also won four straight titles from 1993-1996. The Saints improved to 8-0 in MAAC Championship matches and 11-0 as a number 2 seed. Fairfield falls to 5-7 when the title is on the line and 0-6 against Siena in Championship matches. The Stags won the MAAC regular-season title for the fourth straight season and posted 20 wins (20-13)
"This was extra special to be at home and win it for our fans," McCurty said. "Everyone on the team played really well all weekend."
The four MAAC titles mean Siena's senior class will graduate with a record that can never be broken. Setter April London, middle hitter Emily Kruglik and libero Kathi Kobayashi each played key roles in Monday's championship. London ended with 35 assists, 10 digs and two aces. It is also the Saints' fourth straight 20-win season (20-12).
Siena will learn where it will play in the NCAA Tournament during the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball selection show Sunday, November 30th at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.