WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gallaudet University will host its first-ever North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) women's volleyball tournament this weekend at the Field House as the Bison enter as the two-time defending champions and the No. 1 seed for this year's tournament. GU completed the regular season conference schedule with a perfect 11-0 record and never dropped a set in NEAC play. The tournament kicks off with the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. followed by the semifinals and championship on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.
Here is a breakdown of the six teams in this year's NEAC tournament:
No. 1 Gallaudet (29-6, 11-0 NEAC): This is Gallaudet's third season competing in the NEAC and it has won the championship tournament in both of its first two years in the conference. This season, the Bison finished with an impressive overall record of 29-6, including the 11 conference victories. They are led by senior and sophomore outside hitters Ann Whited (Fishers, Ind.) and Kali Frowick (Norfolk, Neb.) who have recorded 345 and 430 kills, respectively. The 430 kills by Frowick are good for tops in the conference. Sophomore setter Sarah Tubert (Burbank, Calif.) finished the regular season with 1,296 assists (10.29 per set), which is the highest total in the NEAC. The Bison also boast four of the conference's top-five leaders in hitting percentage with senior middle hitter Jessica Israel (Frederick, Md.) taking the top spot at .418. Junior opposite hitter Lane Peters (Phoenix, Ariz.) is second in the conference at .316 followed by Frowick and Whited who own the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. Additionally, Israel is second in the NEAC with 0.82 blocks per set and freshman libero Kate Fetzer (Noblesville, Ind.) is third in the conference with 447 digs on the season. Gallaudet is currently riding a seven-match winning streak and will look to carry this momentum into the tournament when they play in the semifinal round at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
No. 2 Keuka (23-7, 9-2 NEAC): Like the Bison, the tournament's No. 2 seed Keuka College receives a bye into the semifinals that are set to begin on Saturday. The Storm finished the regular season with a 23-7 overall record and a 9-2 record in-conference. They are paced by junior outside hitter Paige Golden (Kent, N.Y.) who is fourth in the NEAC in kills with 354 and third in kills per set with a 3.4 average. Junior libero Taylor Smith (Webster, N.Y.) is ranked second in the conference in digs with 487 on the year. Keuka has won four straight matches entering the conference tournament. Its last loss came at the hands of the Gallaudet on Oct. 20 when the Bison defeated the Storm in straight sets.
No. 3 Penn St.-Berks (18-9, 9-2 NEAC): The third seed in the tournament is held by Penn St.-Berks who finished with a 9-2 NEAC record but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker against Keuka. The Nittany Lions enter the tournament with the conference's second-best team hitting percentage at .170, trailing only Gallaudet (.277). They are led in the category by sophomore middle blocker Kayla Mosser (Allentown, Pa.) who owns a hitting percentage of .301, good for third in the NEAC. Penn St.-Berks is set to tip off the tournament in the quarterfinals on Friday at 6 p.m. when they take on Penn St.-Abington.
No. 4 Lancaster Bible (16-18, 8-3 NEAC): The Chargers are led by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Daniels (East Petersburg, Pa.) and senior outside hitter Lauren Heliger (Reading, Pa.) who rank second and third in the NEAC in total kills with 399 for Daniels and 381 for Heliger. In addition, Heliger is first in the league in both digs with 589 and digs per set with 5.03.
No. 5 SUNY Institute of Technology (12-21, 7-4 NEAC): Similar to the Chargers, the Wildcats enter the tournament with a losing overall record (12-21) but finished the NEAC schedule with a 7-4 mark. They are currently riding a six-game losing streak but will look to end the skid against Lancaster Bible, at the same time avenging their 3-0 loss to the Chargers earlier in the season. The winner of the Friday quarterfinal match will advance to take on No. 1 seed Gallaudet in the tournament semifinals.
No. 6 Penn St.-Abington (18-9, 6-5 NEAC): The tournament's sixth-seeded Nittany Lions team finished the regular season with an 18-9 overall record. Their 6-5 conference record was just good enough to edge the College of St. Elizabeth who also owned a 6-5 NEAC record but fell to Abington in the head-to-head tiebreaker. Penn St.-Abington is led by freshman outside hitter Abby Millan (El Paso, Texas) who ranks first in the NEAC in service aces per set with 0.93. Millan is also second in the conference in kills per set with 3.57. In their first meeting this season, Abington fell to Berks in straight sets in the NEAC Crossover held at Gallaudet University. The winner of the Friday matchup will advance to the semifinals to take on No. 2 seed Keuka College at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The two winners of Saturday's semifinal matchups will advance to meet one another in the tournament's championship match to be held at 4 p.m.
The winner of the NEAC tournament receives an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament. The event's schedule and seeding are as follows:
Friday, Nov. 2
Quarterfinals @ 6 p.m.
Game 1: No. 3 Penn St.-Berks vs. No. 6 Penn St.-Abington
Game 2: No. 4 Lancaster Bible vs. No. 5 SUNY Institute of Technology
Saturday, Nov. 3
Semifinals @ 11 a.m.
Game 3: No. 1 Gallaudet vs. Winner of Game 2
Game 4: No. 2 Keuka vs. Winner of Game 1
Championship @ 4 p.m
Game 5: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4