Flames Have Just Enough Spark; Championship Bound

Nov. 17, 2012

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CLEVELAND, Ohio - In true comeback fashion, the second-seeded UIC volleyball team rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to win three-straight sets and defeat No. 3 Valparaiso, 3-2 (24-26, 20-25, 25-16, 25-14, 15-13) in the semifinal round of the Horizon League Championship.

Senior Aubrey Sniegowski piloted the Flames in kills with 20 to lead all players and record a career-high. The outside hitter bested her previous high of 19 kills, which was set Oct. 6, 2012 versus Milwaukee.

Seniors Kelsey Safranek and Nicole Allgood and junior MaryKate Imrie collected double-double figures in the victory. Safranek posted her 11th double-double, while Allgood collected her fifth and Imrie her 18th. Safranek had 17 kills and 13 digs, while Allgood had 18 kills and 17 digs and Imrie handed out 63 helpers and earned 17 digs.

Imrie is now in a first-place tie for most double-doubles in the Horizon League with 18. The junior setter is also now 10th in single-season assists with 1,326 in UIC's all-time record book.

Defensively, Maggie Strus had 23 digs, while Justine Garcia earned 13. Sara Sternard collected eight total blocks (four solo and four block assists) and also hammered down eight kills.

The Crusaders captured the opening two sets in 26-24 and 25-20 outcomes, but following the break, UIC returned to the court with an early 4-point run, forcing Valparaiso to use a timeout. With the score at 4-1, UIC went on to outscore Valparaiso, 7-5 and then post a five-point run to jump out to a seven-point advantage. From there, the Flames posted five 11-point leads and eventually captured a 25-16 victory.

The Flames continued moved in to the fourth set by outscoring the Crusaders 14-5. UIC didn't show signs of slowing down as the team secured a convincing 25-14 win.

With the match tied at 2-2, UIC and Valparaiso battled back and forth through the deciding set. The score was tied at 13 all, before Allgood and Janise Dismuke hammered down back-to-back kills to capture the match 3-2 and advance to the championship match of the Horizon League Tournament.

UIC faces top-seeded Cleveland State Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (CT) as both teams cling on to the hope of continuing the 2012 campaign at the NCAA Tournament.