BY RYAN SANUDO
Senior Staff Writer
Three players from Sacred Heart University’s women’s volleyball team were selected to the Battle of Connecticut All-Tournament team. Freshman Sarah Ciszek, junior Julia Murawinski and red-shirt junior Liisel Nelis were accepted to the tournament for their play during the team’s three game winning streak ranging from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, with victories against Fairfield, Hartford and Quinnipiac.
Despite the award being an individual achievement, Murawinski credits her teammates for the accolade.
“If I didn’t have my setter and passers I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did,” said Murawinski. “Our freshmen came in ready to go and it was really impressive seeing them instantly click with our setters. They really have rose to the occasion.”
Ciszek is an outside hitter and starting setter in her first year at Sacred Heart.
“Everyone welcomed me from the beginning and has supported me through everything which has helped me be a part of this team quickly,” said Ciszek. “Everyone constantly is there for me by cheering me on and my coaches have also pointed out the small things I need to work on which has helped me stay consistent.”
Coach Rob Machan is now in his 11th season with the Pioneers. He’s a two-time Northeast Conference (NEC) champion in 2010 and 2011.
“If you rate a team from top to bottom, this is as good of a team as I had,” said Machan. “They are working hard every day to get better.”
The team missed the playoffs last year when they finished in fifth place with a record of 12-15. Machan believes a new culture has been made.
“We lost a lot of very close games last year,” said Machan. “Over the spring we made the decision that we were going to do a little bit extra. They are believing in what they’re doing a little bit more and has really translated to finishing games well so far.”
Nelis appreciates the honor, but she’s more focused on future opponents.
“Our mentality is to be ourselves each game,” said Nelis. “It doesn’t matter if we play Texas Tech or Seton Hall, we all come together and are fearless. It’s good to be recognized but I know I can do much better.”
Machan is confident that the season won’t be a problem for the freshmen to adjust to and should work well together with the returning players.
“The freshmen that we added along with the maturing of the athletes we have really has put together a nice group,” said Machan.
Sacred Heart will be playing NJIT, Binghamton and Rhode Island in the Hampton Inn by Hilton Shelton Invitational from Sept. 14-15.