BOSTON, Mass. – Following a 5-7 start to the year, the Women's Volleyball team turned things around going 19-5 the rest of the way to wrap the 2014 season with a 24-12 record including a 10-1 mark and the No. 1 seed in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
During the opening weeks of the campaign, the Saints struggled to find a lineup that could consistently produce on both sides of the court. They opened the year going 2-2 in the 12 Annual Greyhound Invitational at Moravian College with wins over Centenary and Alvernia and then posted another 2-2 showing in the Brandeis University Invitational with wins over Emerson and Rhode Island College.
On Sept. 10 in their home-opener against Eastern Connecticut State University, the Saints notched a 3-1 win behind strong play from sophomore outside hitter Cassie Chruscielski (Duluth, Minn.) and junior middle Brittany Tutalo (Johnston, R.I.). The duo combined for 23 kills while sophomore middle Kaitlyn Atkison (Brookline, N.H.) chipped in with 10 kills in the win.
After a disappointing 1-3 showing at the MIT Invitational, posting a lone win over Husson University, the Saints closed out September on fire registering six straight wins. The streak started with dominant 3-0 win over Keene State College followed by a GNAC tri-match sweep over Anna Maria and Mount Ida College. On September 25, Emmanuel dispensed Wentworth, 3-0, in a COF showdown behind a match-high 13 kill outing from Chruscielski. In their final play-date of the month, the Saints swept a non-conference tri-match against Colby-Sawyer and Brandeis in New London, Conn. Chruscielski and Atkinson posted double-digit kill totals over Colby-Sawyer in a 3-1 win while the Saints held Brandeis to a dismal -.018 team hitting percentage in a 3-0 sweep later the same day.
Emmanuel's win streak came to an end following a 3-1 defeat vs. Wheaton on October 2, however, a new streak started up two days later as the Saints would rattle off seven straight wins starting with a tri-match sweep over CCNY and Albertus Magnus on October 4 followed by a 3-1 victory over Lesley University.
In a pivotal GNAC tri-match against Saint Joseph's (ME) and Rivier University, the Saints came out unblemished with a 3-2 win over the Monks followed by a 3-1 win over the Raiders. Chruscielski posted double-doubles in both wins with 15 kills and 11 digs vs. Saint Joes and 11 kills and 13 digs vs. Riv.
The streak continued with a 3-0 GNAC win over Lasell followed by a 3-0 non-conference victory over Framingham State before neighboring Simmons College played the spoiler in a potential undefeated regular season GNAC campaign, downing Emmanuel 3-1 on October 23.
The Saints regrouped with wins over University of Saint Joseph (CT) and Johnson & Wales University and closed out the regular season with a pair of 3-0 wins over Suffolk and Norwich to secure the No. 1 seed heading into the 2014 GNAC tournament.
In the GNAC Quarterfinals, the Saints made quick work of Lasell College in a 3-0 win as Atkinson, Chruscielski, Tutalo and senior Sarah Colby (West Barnstable, Mass.) posted eight kills each in the victory.
Emmanuel hosted No. 4 Johnson & Wales in the Semifinals and the Wildcats came to play, handing an early exit to the Saints with a 3-1 decision despite 11 kills from Chruscielski and 35 assists from junior setter Shannon Dudley (Morro Bay, Calif.).
Despite the early exit from the tournament, several Saints were honored on the GNAC All-Conference team including Head Coach Denitra Seals who was named the GNAC Women's Volleyball Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. Atkinson, Chruscielski, Dudley and senior libero Cara Callahan were all honored on the GNAC All-Conference Second Team.
Along with Callahan and Colby, the Saints bid farewell to senior Christine Durkee (Salem, Conn.) as the trio will graduate next May.