Women’s Volleyball Crowned ECAC Champs Again

Last weekend, the women’s volleyball team won the 2019 Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III title for the second year in a row.

Stern freshman Nicole Dao receives the ball at the ECAC Championship. (Via NYU Athletics)

For the second year in a row, women’s volleyball captured the ECAC Division III Championship. The tournament took place in Scranton, PA at Marywood University from Nov. 16 to 17.

“It was important for us to win ECACs because we won last year,” Stern first-year Haley Holz said. “And it was our seniors’ last tournament, so we wanted their last game to be a win.”

The Violets enjoyed unprecedented success this season. The team finished the year with an impressive 28-8 overall record and were ranked No. 1 in blocks per set in the country. CAS senior Kelsey Kraetz finished in No. 3 for blocks per set while Tisch sophomore — and Honorable Mention All-American — Abby Ausmus ranked No. 10. 

Head Coach Andrew Brown emphasized the importance of setting lofty goals in his program. 

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“We set a goal to be the top blocking team last year, and we adjusted our style and technique,” Brown said. “Now, we are able to say we’re the top blocking team in the country.”

According to Ausmus, the coaching staff made many new adjustments on and off the court this year, including adding yoga and more team drills.

She points out that these adjustments made a notable impact on their opponents. 

“In conference, a lot of teams were taken aback by [how] good we’ve gotten,” Ausmus said. “In the past, NYU wasn’t a huge force in the UAA, and now we’re competing against schools like [the University of Chicago].”

A moment when the team really felt that it had finally hit that next level came in October. The Violets ended up losing to Emory University, but the team managed to steal a set, resulting in a 3-1 loss. Emory is ranked No. 1 in the Southern region, NYU took away some positives from that loss.

“We knew then that with our training and core values that it is totally possible not to just beat them in a set, but also beat any team in the country,” Brown said. “The fact that we can consistently beat these teams shows we are able to beat any team on any given day.” 

That small one-set victory meant a lot to the players, as it showed the progress they’ve made over the years.

“If you asked our seniors if they thought [the set win against Emory] was possible four years ago, they would’ve said, ‘no,’” Ausmus said. 

Looking forward, the team is excited to continue this upward streak with hopes for an NCAA appearance next year. There is a level of companionship that is unparalleled in the chemistry that the players share.

“We’re a very focused team,” Holz said. “We have the same goals and are always on the same page, so we’re always working together for something.”

“Coach Brown coming in and bringing the team together [was important in] making sure we play for each other [and] be here for each other,” Ausmus added. “We have that cohesiveness, there’s no friction and we have the same goals. There’s nothing that is blocking us from that.”

A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Rebecca Choi at [email protected]

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