In their first postseason appearance in six years, the women’s volleyball team finished fourth in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Upstate New York Championships at Rochester Institute of Technology last weekend.

The Yellowjackets pulled out a tough five-game victory over St. John Fisher College on Friday to advance to the semifinals, where they were beaten 3-1 by Ithaca College on Saturday.

UR finished their season with a 24-17 record.

“The match against Ithaca was well fought and we just couldn’t pull it out in the end,” junior co-captain and setter Liz Loveless said.

UR entered the tournament as the third seed and Ithaca was seeded second. The match went to four games, but was decided in an exhausting 39-37 third game win by the Bombers.

“The Ithaca game came right down to the wire,” Head Coach Linda Downey said. “It was the longest game I ever remember being involved with.”

After splitting two close games, with UR winning the first, 30-27, and Ithaca taking the second, 30-28, the teams faced off in the decisive third game.

“I think the third game really determined the match,” Loveless said.

“Whoever won that game was probably going to win the match. I think that game really took the wind out of us, as the fourth game wasn’t as close as the first three.”

Ithaca took the fourth game 30-23. Junior middle back Kristin Vogt had 12 kills and three blocks, freshman outside hitter Susan Johnson had 25 kills and 25 digs and sophomore outside hitter Haley Massa added 11 kills and 17 digs. Loveless posted 46 assists.

On Friday, the Yellowjackets beat Fisher 3-2.

“We had a tough match against Fisher and it was great to pull out that five game match,” Loveless said. “We showed that we had the endurance and were in better shape than Fisher because we were able to win that fifth game.”

UR had swept Fisher in both of their two previous meetings and won this match 30-26, 30-27, 28-30, 26-30, 15-12.

“The ECAC title was up for grabs,” Downey said. “We played a much improved Fisher team and won in five.”

Against Fisher, Johnson had 25 kills and 35 digs. Freshman setter Samantha Carr had 33 digs, sophomore middle back Kate Czarniak had 13 kills and four blocks and Loveless had 57 assists.

According to Downey, the team’s postseason appearance was an achievement.

“We made some really big improvements this season, especially in making the ECAC tournament,” she said.

Massa agreed. “Being able to go to the tournament was an accomplishment in itself,” she said. “We ended up 24-17 for the season – a complete turnaround from last season when we were 16-23.”

The team is confident that they will only continue to improve. “We are looking to work hard in the off season and better our record next season,” Downey said.

The Bombers fell 3-0 in the championship round versus RIT. The Tigers were lead by Erin Groganski, who led RIT to the final round and was chosen as the ECAC Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The Spikers take to the off-season with renewed vigor and determination to knock off the local rivals and rise to the top of the volleyball elite in the ECAC and beyond.

Taylor can be reached at

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