Garden City, N.Y. – To continue the Battle of the Boulevard rivalry this season, the fourth-seeded NYIT volleyball program drew the fifth-seeded LIU Post Pioneers in the first round of the NCAA Division II East Region tournament Thursday evening. After dropping the first set, the Bears came back to win the next two but ultimately the Pioneers forced a fifth set, which the higher seed took by a 15-13 final to advance to the semifinals.
Karolina Moderova led the team on offense in the five-set victory, notching 18 kills as teammate Emily Mankowski also reached double-digits with 11 kills of her own. The two combined for six block assists, which contributed to the 10.0 total team blocks contributed from the Bears. Allison Fowler continued to pace the offense, accounting for 41 assists as Becky Syers anchored the defense with 24 digs.
NYIT led by three in the first set after LIU Post committed back-to-back errors in the first set, however, Bear miscues and timely hitting from the Pioneers had the game locked two more times, first at 13 and then at 14. The visitors collected six total team blocks to the home teams' one and en route to an 11-2 run to close out the first frame.
A 4-0 start to the second set had the Bears on top, forcing Head Coach of the Pioneers Shellane Ogoshi to call a timeout. From there NYIT tacked on three more points to command the game at 7-0, bookmarked with kills from Kate Brock and Moderova. The two combined later in the set to stop Analise Austin and hold onto a five-point advantage. Rachel Guida and Tina Stefanovic chipped in on the blocking defense to hold back Rachel Londot on their way to a 25-18 victory to even the match at one apiece.
Momentum stayed on the Bears side of the court as they doubled the Pioneer score at 12-6 by way of an LIU Post attack error. They kept pressing and managed to lead by nine courtesy of contributions from Brock and Mankowski. A three-point run from the visitors was quickly halted when Mankowski registered a timely kill, helping the team close out a 25-15 third set win, to go up two games to one.
Moderova kicked off the fourth set with a slam between two LIU Post defenders, and Mankowski got one hand on the ball to stop Austin and lock the match at 4-4. From there the L traded points but the Bears quickly found themselves fighting to regain the lead. Offensive power Danielle Valenza could not be stopped in the closing points, registering two of three big kills that knotted the match at 2-2.
Head Coach Gail Wasmus was forced to call an early timeout in the fifth and final set, after the Pioneers reached eight first to switch sides. However, three straight points for the Blue and Gold brought them back up to speed and locked the game at 8-8. The Bears did not take the lead until Brock and Moderova shut down Valenza and an additional kill from Brock forced another LIU timeout. With set point on the line for NYIT, the Pioneers earned the sideout and then one to be within one.
After composing themselves with a timeout of their own, NYIT capped off the win with a Moderova slam after an extended rally to earn a spot in the NCAA Division II East Region semifinals against the one-seeded Adelphi University Panthers. They will face off in the Center for Recreation and Sports on Friday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Provided by the NYIT Sports Information Department.