Thompson’s big senior day helps RMU earn second seed in NEC Tournament

Samuel Anthony, Staff Reporter

The crowd was loud and the emotions were high during the Northeast Conference season finale where the Robert Morris Colonials downed the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in four sets to secure second place in the regular season NEC standings, setting up a match with the Bryant Bulldogs next Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lone senior Kristin Thompson led the charge during her last match in the Charles J. Sewall Center with 19.5 points which included 17 kills. A fitting finish for one of the greatest careers in RMU volleyball history.

The first three sets were all won by very tight scores with the Colonials pulling the first and third sets out by scores of 26-24 and 25-23, while the Blue Devils stole the second set after an RMU rally, 23-25.

The match was defined by its extremely close nature; despite only five lead changes, there were a total of 25 tied scores between the four sets, displaying the fact that neither team was able to take a commanding lead in any one set of the match.

The Colonials were able to show the grit they lacked in early season play and win the tight sets, something they will need to do entering postseason play.

Robert Morris was six points away from hosting the NEC Tournament as the day was riddled with upsets in the NEC, starting with Bryant falling to St. Francis University (PA) and Sacred Heart defeated by St. Francis Brooklyn in five sets. Meanwhile, LIU Brooklyn narrowly avoided upset by winning 15-9 in the fifth set over Fairleigh Dickinson.

An LIU Brooklyn loss would have tied the Colonials with the Blackhawks, with Robert Morris holding the tiebreaker and the right to host the NEC Tournament. But RMU now has its mind set on heading to Brooklyn next weekend with goals to win the NEC Tournament and the subsequent bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We are playing for one reason only and that is to get ourselves to the championship match and give ourselves a chance to win,” said coach Dale Starr. “We’ve been close for four years with Kristin and it would be the culmination of a great season to get to that championship match and win.”

The Colonials take on the Bryant Bulldogs Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. looking to take advantage of the Bulldogs’ struggles on the road this season, as they hold a 3-9 record on the road and a 2-4 record on neutral court.

The winner of that match up will look to take on either LIU Brooklyn or Sacred Heart and NEC superstar Sarah Krufka. Either way, this year’s NEC Tournament looks to be one of the best yet.