While BES was down: LIU Brooklyn volleyball to face Penn State

The LIU Blackbirds won back-to-back NEC championships and eight of the last 10. Photo courtesy of LIU Athletics.

The LIU Blackbirds won back-to-back NEC championships and eight of the last 10. Photo courtesy of LIU Athletics.

The LIU Brooklyn women’s volleyball team has had an amazing run. They won their second Northeast Conference tournament in a row and eighth time in 10 years, they won four out of the five major NEC awards on the season and up next they will face Penn State in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Dec. 6.

“I’m really excited to go out to Penn State and get the opportunity to play one of the top teams in the nation,” Blackbird team captain Jessica Rice said. “I really believe that if we stick to our game plan and keep playing like we have as a team, then we have the chance to be really successful.”

Penn State, who finished 27-2 overall and 19-1 in the Big 10 Conference, is ranked No. 2 nationally and isn’t far removed from a run of four consecutive NCAA titles it won from 2007-2010. The Nittany Lions also rival the Blackbirds in their conference supremacy as they have won 10 out of the last 11 conference titles and 16 overall.

“We’re inspired by the challenge of playing a great team, and it’s a privileged to be thought of as a top team that can challenge a team like Penn State,” head coach Kyle Robinson, who was named NEC Coach of the Year last month, said. “We’re looking forward to the trip.”

The Blackbirds will have to beat Penn State in the first round and their second round opponent before they can advance to the Lexington Regional on Friday and Saturday Dec. 13-14 in Lexington, KY. The winner from the regionals will advance to the NCAA Semifinals that will be held on Dec. 19 in Seattle.

In addition to Robinson being named Coach of the Year, the Blackbirds also had Annika Foit recognized as the NEC Player of the Year, Vera Djuric was named NEC Setter of the Year and Adriana Vinas Joy was named NEC Libero of the Year.

The only major award they didn’t take was Rookie of the Year which went to Sarah Krufka of Sacred Heart. Five players were named to the NEC First Team All-Conference, including Foit, Djuric, Vinas Joy, Rice and Tamara Ignjic. Mirjana Rajic was named to the NEC Second Team All-Conference.

The game will take place at Penn State on Dec. 6 and will start at 7:30 p.m.

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