WRITTEN BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
After suffering an 11-match shutout streak to the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds that started in 2010, the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers women’s volleyball team may have a chance at defeating their number one rival on Saturday.
The Terriers will host the only other Division I Brooklyn team for Terrier Pride Weekend.
Since 2010, the Terriers have gone (10-19), (1-31), (4-29), (7-25), (2-28), and (7-23) respectively.
The Blackbirds have gone (10-21), (21-13), (25-18), (23-8), (25-7), and (14-14) respectively.
Now in the midst of the 2016 season, the Terriers stand at (6-12, 1-0 NEC) and have the potential to record their best season since 2010. Their rival is having an off season and stands at (4-11, 1-1 NEC).
Led by seniors Domenique Gerard and Niehely Sosa as well as junior transfer student Aleksandra Gligoric, the Terriers have accumulated more wins, but both Brooklyn teams have had their strong and weak matches.
The Terriers come from a five-set defeat to the (1-17) Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights, winning the first North East Conference match of the season. The women led by the scores of 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 18-25 and 15-7 respectively. The contest was a crucial one for Gerard, as the outside hitter led her team by hitting 35.7 percent and recording 21 kills.
The Blackbirds’ most recent match was their 1-3 loss to the (9-6) Sacred Heart Pioneers. Senior right side hitter Alex Larsen and junior outside hitter Alexandra Lilliquist paced the Blackbirds, but could not manage to outscore their opponent. Larsen hit 22.9 percent en route to 14.5 points and 11 kills and Lilliquist hit 14.8 percent, recording another 14.5 points and 13 kills.
Despite their efforts, the two star players could not compete with the unstoppable Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Makayla Dole and senior right side hitter Sarah Krufka. Dole hit 20 percent en route to 19 points and 17 kills. Krufka hit 31.6 percent, dishing out 18.5 points and 18 kills.
However, LIU also defeated the Knights in their first NEC match of the season and the victory came easier than it did for the Terriers. Larsen paced the Blackbirds with 17.5 points and 14 kills en route to a shut out by the scores of 25-20, 25-19 and 25-20 respectively.
The Terriers and Blackbirds both suffered a six-match losing streak this season.
Both teams faced the (8-9, 0-1 NEC) NJIT Highlanders, but the Blackbirds were victorious while the Terriers fell short.
The Blackbirds defeated the Highlanders 3-1 on September 10 before their rival fell 2-3 to the Newark, NJ team on September 17.
The last time the two teams met was on November 7, 2015. The Blackbirds pounced on the Terriers, outscoring them by 23 total points by the scores of 25-17, 25-12 and 25-19 respectively.
However, the improvement of Sosa and addition of Gligoric this season puts the Terriers in a competitive place.
The Terriers have racked up 729 kills, 929 digs, 667 assists, 147 blocks and 106 aces as a team, while suffering 398 attack errors, 172 serve errors, 26 block errors and 30 ball handling errors.
Their opponent has recorded 563 kills, 760 digs, 528 assists, 101 blocks and 69 aces, while suffering 275 attack errors, 83 serve errors, 26 block errors and 25 ball handling errors.
Gerard has been the player behind many of the Terriers’ wins this season and last season. The senior has hit 16 percent en route to 173 kills and 163 digs since August.
Gligoric – another outside hitter – has also been the leader of many of her team’s matches during her first season in Brooklyn. The Serbian has hit 11.8 percent, leading her to record 139 kills and 44 digs this season.
The junior’s breakthrough came during her team’s 3-2 defeat over the Fordham Rams on September 2. She led the Terriers to their second season win with 19.5 points, 18 kills and five digs.
Following her breakthrough match, Gligoric won the succeeding Quinnipiac match for the Terriers with 18.5 points, 14 kills and four digs. She has since been a major contributor to the team’s victories over the Lafayette Leopards, Delaware State Hornets and Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.
Sosa – a middle hitter – has been an up-and-coming player during her final season. The Las Vegas native has hit 21.5 percent en route to 122 kills and 27 digs.
Senior outside hitter Milica Mladjenovic has also been a key player this season, hitting 9.9 percent to record 83 kills and 83 digs.
The team would not have achieved what they did if it weren’t for sophomore setter Angela Hudelson who has recorded a team-high 329 assists and freshman setter Macy Kurtz who has added another 235.
Larsen has hit 17.4 percent for the Blackbirds this season, dishing out 141 kills and 104 digs. Lilliquist has hit 20 percent, adding 124 kills and 84 digs.
Sophomore outside hitter/right side hitter Jiayi Zhang has also been a major contributor to the team. The 6’6 China native has hit 11.4 percent en route to 99 kills and 27 digs.
Freshman middle blocker Filippa Hansson has hit 19.5 percent, contributing 69 kills and 42 digs.
An additional two players have particularly helped LIU with assists. Freshman setter Amanda Hubbard has recorded a team-high 358 and senior setter Nicole Hopton has given the team 97.
The match between the two Brooklyn teams will begin in SFC’s Genovesi Center at 1 pm.