LIU Wins Northeast Conference on its way to NCAA Tournament

Lois Elman | 12/1/2014, 4:17 p.m.

Long Island University’s volleyball team caps another successful Northeast Conference season by going undefeated in conference play, winning the conference tournament and earning its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Kyle Robinson, who was named NEC Coach of the Year, has built one of the most successful programs at LIU.

Credit also goes to the Blackbirds’ four seniors, two of whom also won NEC honors—Annika Folt, who became the first player in NEC history to be named Player of the Year three consecutive times, and Vera Djuric, four-time recipient of Setter of the Year and NEC Tournament MVP. Redshirt senior libero Artisha Jackson heads into the final days of her collegiate career knowing the impact she and fellow seniors have had on the team.

“It’s been a really long five years for me, but I feel our team has grown,” said Jackson, who redshirted her junior year after tearing her Achilles tendon. “My freshman year was kind of individuals playing together.

“Now, the team is like a family,” she continued. “Being the same group for so long has been really good because we’ve built the connection. I feel confident this year. Especially, being my last year, it’s really good to finish winning.”

Jackson came to LIU as an outside hitter, but Robinson switched her to libero, which is a defensive position. Jackson said defense has always been her forte and her passion, so she’s flourished. The libero has to be very vocal on the floor, and growing into the role has made her more vocal in conversation and in class. The injury also added a year to her time in college, and she’s used it to pursue a five-year BS/MS program in accounting. Her minor is management and she is considering pursuing a second master’s degree.

For now, preparations are underway for the NCAA Tournament. The Blackbirds will learn their first-round opponent Nov. 30. First-round play takes place the weekend of Dec. 3-6. As the team practices, the seniors challenge their teammates to take ownership of the future.

“Work hard, hold yourself accountable and make sure that everyone else is doing their job,” Jackson said. “We stay on their case because you want to look back on your team and know they’re still doing well.”