Katherine Cahalin/Staff Photographer
Seton Hall volleyball (25-6, 13-3) is heading to the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2011, but first they head to Georgetown and Creighton to close out a season for the ages.
The Pirates were able to clinch tournament play after defeating DePaul 3-2 (25-21, 27-29, 24-26, 25-17, 15-7) on Saturday, Nov. 15, thanks to some key rallies and strong performances from multiple players.
Sophomore Tessa Fournier had 45 digs, which tied the program’s single-match record previously held by Alyssa Warren. Shelbey Manthorpe had a career-high 66 assists while her sister Stacey had a double-double, notching 22 kills and 16 digs. Juniors Amanda Hansen and Molly Grammer and sophomore Danielle Schroeder each had double-digit kills as well.
On top of securing a top-four spot in the tourney, the team also honored the achievements of both Manthorpe sisters, Ashani Rubin, Sam Duncan, Jamie Froning and Simona Sekulova, all of who are graduating seniors.
Head coach Allison Yaeger believes those seniors played a large role in her team’s success this season.
“We’re a very veteran team,” she said. “We’re very old. We have a lot of seniors on the team… They know how to take control of the match, my girls, my seniors, and they really help us. They are seen as the backbone of this team.”
Following the festivities in Walsh Gym for the seniors, Yaeger said she took the entire team out to dinner to celebrate them working their way into the Big East Tournament, which will take place Nov. 28-29 in Milwaukee, Wis.
Before that happens Seton Hall needs to wrap up their regular season. The Hall will take on Georgetown (9-20, 3-13) on Friday, Nov. 21 in Washington, D.C. before going head-to-head with Creighton (22-7, 15-1), the conference’s first-place team. The Bluejays are currently riding a 10-game win streak but will face Villanova before matching up with the Pirates on Sunday.
Yaeger said it was a relief to secure a spot in the tournament before this final weekend.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “It’s so big because we’ve talked about it for years now. I feel like every single year for the last four years it seems it (clinching) has gone into the last weekend… To be able to clinch with the last weekend in front of us is huge. It’s not desperation on our part which is good because we can play nice relaxed volleyball and that is always when we play our best.”
Despite already having postseason play locked up, Yaeger said she is confident her players will maintain focus.
“No, not really,” the second-year coach said when asked if she was worried about it. “The girls are very excited to get on the road. I feel like we haven’t been on the road in a while and we play really well on the road. We’ve done that all year long and playing Georgetown, the girls are always fired up to play them and obviously Creighton has a huge, huge, huge match this weekend. I know that they are going to be focused and I know that we will have a sense of urgency going into that.”
Friday’s match is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. before the team travels to Omaha, Neb. for their regular season finale against Creighton. That match is set to begin at 1 p.m.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.