Nov. 8, 2007
Aston, Pa. -As the starting line ups for both the No. 6 Neumann Knights and No. 3 Elizabethtown College Blue Jays were announced at the 2007 NCAA Volleyball Tournament, there was a noticeable level of excitement and anticipation in the air. In their first NCAA Tournament appearance the Neumann Knights entered the Haverford College Gooding '84 Arena in Olympic fashion. Unfortunately, the Knights lost in three games (30-20, 30-24 and 30-27) but fought hard and proved that they were worthy of the tournament berth.
"This was a great experience for us as a team. Over the years this program has really matured and I feel very blessed to be a part of such a successful season," stated senior Alyssa Brigg. "I can't wait to see what is in the future for this program. It has been a great four years and I will never forget them."
The Knights earned the right to first serve in game one as Emilee Gruse took to the line to start the match for Neumann. A kill by Neumann's Julia Tarloski put the first points on the board in game one and brought the serve back to Gruse which was returned by Elizabethtown's Paige Tanner for a 1-1 mark in the opening minutes of play.
Elizabethtown went on a 5-point run before Neumann's Ashley Mathis downed a ball off an assist from Kristen Verone to break the cycle and return the serve to Neumann's side. Neumann continued to battle but unfortunately could not overcome two, 6-point runs by the Blue Jays late in the game which put Neumann at 0-1 (30-20) going into game two.
Neumann took an early lead in game two 4-3. The Blue Jays battled to a 5-5 tie but Neumann regained the lead 9-8 behind kills from Julia Tarloski and Emilee Gruse. Elizabethtown rebounded with four straight points to take the lead 12-9 before three-time PAC Coach of the Year Deana Jespersen called a time out to settle her team.
"I reminded the team that they needed to play for every point, that they shouldn't let Elizabethtown set the pace and that they needed to take control and continue to battle." stated, Head Coach Deana Jespersen about the timeout.
After the break Ashley Mathis and Emilee Gruse attacked the ball in style with back-to-back kills to close the gap on the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays pulled away taking a 23-15 lead over the Knights. Julia Tarloski stopped the run with three consecutive service aces forcing a Blue Jay time out. The Knights added another point to bring the game to 23-19, but Elizabethtown added two more to take a 25-19 lead. The Knights did not back down bringing it within two 26-24. Rachel Sokolovich and Ashley Mathis led the rally but it was not enough as the Blue Jays added six straight points to finish game two 30-24.
The Knights looked to rebound from the game two loss and started out early taking a 4-2 lead in game three. The Blue Jays answered to tie the score at 4-4 but Julia Tarloski slammed home a kill and regained the lead. The game then battled point for point until the 14th point in which Elizabethtown took a 16-14 lead. The Knights responded with an Emilee Gruse kill, but the Blue Jays continued to pressure the Knights forcing a Neumann timeout with a 23-18 lead.
Neumann stepped up and scored four consecutive points including two highlight kills by Ashley Mathis forcing a Blue Jay timeout and bringing the score to 23-22. The Blue Jays returned to the court and went on a three point run to take a 26-22 lead. The Knights would not go down easily scoring three points to bring the game within one, 26-25. That would be as close as the Knights would get as the Blue Jays finished out the game 30-27.
"We competed today and played with a lot of passion and heart," stated Assistant Coach Matt Verlinghieri. Elizabethtown is a tough team and we could not of have asked of anything more from this team."
With the loss Neumann's season comes to a close. The Knights ended the 2007 season 23-11 and went 10-1 in the PAC Conference.
Neumann College Athletics Women's Volleyball