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Volleyball Update from Coach Sheffield

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Hello Friends, Family, and Alumni of UAlbany Volleyball!


In front of the largest and loudest crowds to see a UAlbany volleyball match, the Great Danes won their first America East Conference Championship this past weekend! In Friday's match against Binghamton, the team came out fired up and ready to pounce. The offense was clicking extremely well as we hit an astonishing .422 for the match. Junior Ashley Hunter led the way with 16 kills and a .536 hitting percentage. In Saturday's championship match against the Maine Black Bears, we were facing the same team that had defeated us just eight days earlier. They are a veteran team made up of mostly juniors and seniors. Our team came out smoking early behind junior Eileen Rodriguez' serve and won game one, 30-20. Game two was back-and-forth, as Maine got much more aggressive and started blocking our attack. They pulled out a close 30-28 win to pull the match even at 1-1. In the locker-room we talked about keeping our composure and that if people would have told us at the beginning that we could play a best of three match for the championship, all of us would have asked where we could sign up. There were still a lot of highs and lows to come, but we had to believe in ourselves and stay on task.


Game three they jumped on us early, 7-0 behind some great serving. We were finally able to steady the ship, but not able to come back from that early hole as we lost 30-28. Game four, the level of play really took off, especially that of Ashley Hunter, who had 9 kills in the game. The defensive plays from both teams were incredible and we were able to force a fifth and deciding game by winning 30-20. In the fifth, Maine jumped up 9-6 behind the play of their senior right-side hitter. Senior Jill Dombrowski helped tie the match at 9 behind some great serving and defense. The match was then tied at 10, 11, 12, and 13. Each time Maine taking the lead, and UAlbany drawing even. At 13-13, junior Ashley Green went back to the back wall to serve. We called for the serve to go down the line to what we considered to be their weaker passer. The ball got a little closer to the line than probably Ashley or any of us were hoping, fortunately the Maine passer also thought it was going out and it came down and clipped the line. The match was then won by a thundering overpass kill by lefty sophomore Shelby Goldman and the place went nuts!


This is what Senior Jill Dombrowski had to say: "The fan support was unbelievable. I think we made life long fans after that amazing match. They are a big reason that we went undefeated at home this season. This is the type of thing you work for the day you start playing a sport. I've always dreamed of a day like this, and the feeling is even better then I imagined it! I'm still pinching myself!"


And Senior Susan Spierre: "To win the America East Championship this past weekend was one of the greatest moments of my life so far and truly a dream come true! All of the hard practices, conditioning sessions, and hours in the weight room finally paid off. Both teams brought their best games to the court Saturday night, and because the match was so close, it made the victory that much sweeter. The best part was having our family and friends there supporting us even when we were behind on the scoreboard. I am just so proud of my team and honored to have been a part of such a great turn-around in the Volleyball program at UAlbany."


Hunter ended the match with a tournament record 28 kills and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Junior Ashlee Reed and Sophomore Shelby Goldman were both named to the All-Tournament team. The team now awaits word on who and where we will be playing in the NCAA Tournament, and will be the first UAlbany female team to participate in the NCAA Tournament - something we are obviously very proud of. The 64 team field will be announced this Sunday on ESPN NEWS at 6:45 pm. We will be having a selection show party in the Hall of Fame room starting at 6:00. Let me know if you are interested in attending. We will let you know the tournament and the team information following.


Also of note, the America East honored players at their banquet on Thursday night and the Great Danes were well represented. Sophomore setter Blair Buchanan became the first player in conference history to be named Setter of the Year and Player of the Year. Reed, Hunter, and Goldman were also named to the first team All-Conference team and the team picked up their first regular season trophy.


I want to thank everyone who has come out and supported us in person or has sent in words of encouragement. It has meant a lot to the team knowing that the support has grown stronger by the week. It should be a fun couple of weeks and we'll do our best to represent UAlbany and the community. Have a great Thanksgiving!




Kelly Sheffield

UAlbany Volleyball

2004 America East Champions

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