NEAC Champs! Gallaudet defends volleyball title, earns automatic bid to NCAA tournament
READING, Pa. – The Gallaudet University women's volleyball team successfully defended their North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) title on Saturday as the second-seed Bison won two matches to claim the 2011 conference championship. The victory secures Gallaudet's place in the 2011 NCAA Division III tournament as the NEAC champion receives an automatic bid.
Gallaudet (28-7) defeated top-seed Penn St.-Berks (22-8), the regular-season NEAC champion, in a tough five set match on the road as the Bison won 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-6. Penn St.-Berks was the only team to beat Gallaudet during the regular-season in NEAC play. This was the second straight year the Bison have played the Nittany Lions for the conference championship.
The Bison advanced to the NEAC championship after it dispatched third-seed SUNYIT in straight sets 25-12, 25-16, 25-11 earlier in the day.
Freshman middle hitter Kali Frowick (Norfolk, Neb.), the 2011 NEAC Rookie of the Year, was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the NEAC tournament. Frowick led the Bison with 31 kills and 25 digs in the two wins.
This marks the eighth time in program history that the Bison have reached the NCAA tournament and the second year in a row. Gallaudet holds a 3-7 record in the tournament during its appearances (1985, '96, '99, 2003, '05, '06, '10). This marks the Bison's fourth NCAA appearance under head coach Lynn Ray Boren, who is in his seventh season at the helm.
Gallaudet jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead on Penn St.-Berks in the championship round as the Bison made 23 kills on 47 attempts (.426 hitting percentage). The Nittany Lions bounced back in the second and fourth sets to force a fifth and final set that the Bison took 15-6. Junior outside hitter Ann Whited (Fishers, Ind.) led the Bison with 18 kills and added 11 digs while senior Paige Johnson (North Richland Hills, Texas) added 14 kills and seven digs in the win. Freshman setter Sarah Tubert (Burbank, Calif.) passed out 53 assists, a season-high, and made six digs and three blocks.
NEAC Player of the Year Amy Shelton, who tallied 14 kills, seven digs and five blocks in the loss, led Penn St.-Berks in the loss.
The semifinal win for the Bison saw Frowick knock down 14 kills and five digs with Whited chipped in 11 kills on 25 attempts. Tubert passed out 30 assists in the straight set win over the Wildcats (21-13).
The NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Committee will select the 62 teams and announce the brackets on Monday, November 7, on a webcast on www.ncaa.com at 11 a.m. (EST). The regional competitions will be held from November 11-13. The championship finals will be held November 18-20 at Washington University Field House in St. Louis, Mo.