Svetlana Simic knows not what losing a championship match feels like.
It isn’t because she has never played in one, either. She actually played in plenty during her Northeast Conference career – four to be exact.
LIU Brooklyn captured six consecutive NEC Volleyball Tournament titles from 2004 through 2009 and Simic was on the court for the last four.
One of the greatest Serbian-born student-athletes in the league’s history, Simic was a four-time all-NEC honoree while competing for a regional powerhouse program.
She capped off her remarkable collegiate career in style, capturing the 2009 NEC Player of the Year award as a senior and proceeding to spearhead another triumphant run through the conference tournament. Simic tallied 12 kills and nine digs during a 3-0 sweep of Sacred Heart in the championship match that season.
Simic’s versatility was rather remarkable as evidenced by her collection of accolades. As a sophomore, Simic won the NEC Libero of the Year award as the league’s top defensive specialist. In the subsequent two seasons, she became one of the most-feared outside hitters in the region. As a senior, Simic led the league in numerous offensive categories, including kills and kills per game.
The versatile Svetlana Simic led the NEC in digs during the 2007 season before topping the circuit in kills two years later.
As if her prowess on the hardwood wasn’t enough, Simic also competed for LIU Brooklyn’s track & field program as an half-miler.
Although Simic graduated from LIU Brooklyn more than one-half decade ago, the Blackbirds have rediscovered their winning ways. After Sacred Heart captured back-to-back NEC crowns in 2010 and 2011, LIU strung together three straight.
Aiming for a fourth consecutive tournament title, the Blackbirds will host the 2015 edition of the four-team postseason event at Downtown Brooklyn’s Steinberg Wellness Center on November 21 & 22. You can watch the entire tournament live via necfrontrow.com.
Paul Dottino (play-by-play), Kevin Gilbride (color) and John Schmeelk (sidelines) will have the call live on ESPN3 at 12:00 pm ET Saturday.
It was selected as the #NECFB on ESPN3 Game of the Week back in July.
As it turns out, Saturday’s regular season finale between Keystone State rivals Duquesne and Saint Francis will double as the 2015 NEC “Title Game.”
The winner will complete its NEC schedule with a 5-1 record and secure both sole possession of first place and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs.
Duquesne, which had a bye this past Saturday, knew it would be playing for at least a share of the conference crown when the Red Flash visited The Bluff for the regular season finale. When the Week 11 results went final, it was clear that two teams would tussle for a FCS playoff bid during a Week 12 bout on Rooney Field.
Sacred Heart’s 28-19 victory over Bryant knocked the Bulldogs, who were the NEC preseason favorite, from title contention, while Saint Francis’ 21-0 shutout of Robert Morris assured the Red Flash a chance to play for their first-ever conference crown.
Although neither team has been to the Division I FCS playoffs before, Duquesne has tasted the NEC title twice since joining the league for the 2008 season. The Dukes shared the conference championship with Albany in 2011 and Sacred Heart in 2013, but missed out of the league’s automatic playoff bid on both occasions due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, the Red Flash, a charter member of NEC football whose time in the conference dates back to the 1996 inaugural season, are guaranteed to finish with a winning league record for the first time. Saint Francis, which has made great strides under the leadership of head coach Chris Villarrial, finished conference play with a .500 win percentage during each of the past three seasons. The Flash’s Week 11 triumph over RMU means that the team can finish with a league mark no worse than 4-2.
The home team has won each of the last three games in this series…
Lance Geesey kicked four field goals in Saint Francis 26-16 victory in Loretto last November.
Duquesne won the most-recent meeting in Pittsburgh, downing the Red Flash 21-10 in 2013. Dukes’ linebacker Christian Kuntz, who was a sophomore at the time, recorded 3.0 tackles for loss to spearhead a dominant team defensive effort that day.
Duquesne was also home for the 2012 game, securing a 24-21 victory thanks to a 20-yard field goal with 00:32 remaining.