ROCKFORD, Ill. -- It had been 2,534 days since the Alverno College volleyball team won a conference match, but tonight the Inferno ended the 78-match and nearly-seven-year conference losing streak with a 3-1 victory over host Rockford University, the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference opener for both teams.
"Tonight feels good," said first-year Alverno Head Coach Jimmy Muñoz. "I'm proud of the three returners [Mariah Arterberry, Emily Ortner and Cali Trepp] for dealing with the past, dealing with the monkey on their backs and showing their teammates it's possible to win a NACC match."
The Inferno posted a season-best 43 kills in the win over the Regents (1-5, 0-1 NACC). The three returners led the attack as Arterberry and Trepp connected for a match-high 12 kills apiece, and Ortner added nine. Freshman-setter Meranda Masse put up 32 assists to set her season and career highs for the second-consecutive match.
After the host Regents won the opening set 25-14, the Inferno won sets two, three and four by scores of 25-14, 25-23 and 25-18. Alverno nearly let the third slip away, but trailing 23-22, the Inferno rallied for the last three points to take the set.
"We were nervous in the first set," said Muñoz. "We knew how important it was -- to win a conference match -- so before the second set, I just reminded them to settle down and play our ball, and they did."
Prior to tonight's triumph, the last and only NACC victory for Alverno was on Oct. 3, 2006, a 3-1 decision over Dominican University back in the league's inaugural season. The Inferno finished 1-10 in the conference in '06 and has gone 0-12 each of the past six seasons, but tonight the Inferno sits atop the NACC standings for the first time in program history at 1-0.
Rookie libero Danielle Schilawski tallied a match-best 24 digs to lead the Inferno defense, while Trepp and Ortner had 16 digs each. It marked Trepp's third-straight double-double and fourth of the season. Arterberry also had four blocks on the night, including two solo stops at the net.
The home opener for Alverno is next on the schedule as it hosts the 2013 Alverno College Volleyball Tournament this Friday and Saturday in Reiman Gymnasium. Alverno (3-4 overall) opens tournament play versus Finlandia University at 12 p.m.