With their eyes set on a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, the LIU volleyball team was decisive in its play at this past weekend’s Northeast Conference Tournament. Posting straight set victories over Robert Morris and Central Connecticut, the Blackbirds capped an undefeated conference season.

“When we set on the journey at the end of last season, this is where we were looking to be,” said coach Kyle Robinson. This is the fourth NEC title and fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament in Robinson’s six seasons at LIU. “The girls worked very hard this year, committed to the things we asked them to, and it’s paid off for them.

“We enjoy winning, and we’ve been very successful when it comes to wins, but our message has always been to work and earn whatever we get,” he added. “We believe winning is a by-product of that hard work.”

The Blackbirds have won 32 consecutive regular season conference matches since 2011, which is the longest active streak in Division I volleyball in the nation. Meanwhile, Robinson was named NEC Coach of the Year for a history-making third consecutive time. Junior Annika Foit won her second consecutive NEC Player of Year honor, junior Vera Djuric earned an unprecedented third-straight NEC Setter of the Year award and sophomore Adriana Vinas Joy became the first player in NEC history to earn back-to-back Libero of the Year awards.

The players had a couple of days off this week, including Thanksgiving, and will be back in the gym on Friday. On Sunday night, they’ll find out their first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament.

“The goal is to continue being us,” said Robinson. “We’re a very blue-collar team; we’re very work-oriented. We also understand there’s a balance to it—as hard as my players work, we give them plenty of time to just be themselves.

“As far as the goals we set at the beginning of the year, we’ve met those goals and we’re back in the tournament. The next goal is to take a win and get past the first round.”