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NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship Preview

NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship Preview

Eight teams will vie for the national title as the final three rounds of the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship will be contested Thursday through Saturday (Nov. 17-19) in Kolf Sports Center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

The eight remaining teams in this year’s championship include a trio of programs that have won a national title and three others that are making their inaugural national quarterfinal round appearance.

Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) owns a division-leading 10 national championships while Calvin College (Mich.) secured titles in 2010 and 2013, and Emory University (Ga.) won it all in 2008.

Newcomers to the quarterfinals are Southwestern University (Texas), University of Mary Washington (Va.) and the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (Minn.).

Rounding out the final eight teams are Eastern and Tufts universities. Eastern University (Pa.) won a regional tournament for the third time since 2011 while Tufts University (Mass.) is back in the quarterfinals for the second time and first since 2009.

Last year, California Lutheran University won its first national title with a three-set sweep of Wittenberg University (Ohio). The Regals’ victory marked the school’s first NCAA championship in any sport.

UW-Oshkosh also hosted the semifinals and final of the 1996 championship, which was won by Washington University.

Calvin College

Calvin College is seeking its third national title in seven seasons.

The Knights won 27 consecutive matches to begin the season before suffering a loss in the title match of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Tournament. Calvin College responded to its lone defeat by losing just one set en route to the Grand Rapids Regional championship and improving its record to 30-1.

In the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Regional final, Calvin College defeated Millikin University (Ill.) in four sets as the Knights hit .347.

Senior middle hitter Laura Danhoff, the MIAA Player of the Year, was also named the Grand Rapids Regional’s Most Outstanding Player. She leads the Knights with 383 kills and 78 blocks.

Joining Danhoff on the regional All-Tournament Team were junior setter Jenna Lodewyk and sophomore outside hitter Anna Kamp. Lodewyk has 1,060 assists while directing the Knight offense while Kamp ranks second on the team with 337 kills.

Head coach Amber Warners has compiled a 454-70 record with two national championships and 13 NCAA postseason trips in her 15 seasons at Calvin. Her .854 overall winning percentage, which includes one season at Hope College (Mich.), is the third best in Division III history.

The Knights own a 48-25 record in 26 NCAA postseason appearances.

Located in Grand Rapids, Mich., Calvin College is a Christian academic community dedicated to rigorous intellectual inquiry. The college fosters scholarship that creates new knowledge, that performs creative work, and that sustains natural and cultural resources.

Eastern University

Eastern University is back in the quarterfinals for the third time in the past six years.

The Eagles, who sport a 32-5 record, began the year with 14 straight victories and enter the national quarterfinals riding a 12-match winning streak.

Eastern University won its ninth consecutive tournament title in the Middle Atlantic Conference’s Freedom Conference before extending its streak of 3-0 wins to seven matches by sweeping host Stevens Institute of Technology (N.J.) during the final match of the Hoboken (N.J.) Regional.

Senior outside hitter Stephanie Elechko, the Freedom Conference Player of the Year, paces the Eagles with 570 kills. She has recorded at least 10 kills in all but two of Eastern University’s 37 matches.

Senior outside hitter Alicia Weigel, the Hoboken Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, has added 414 kills while senior libero Rylie Haas has registered 627 digs and 50 service aces. Haas reached 600 digs for the third time in her career.

Head coach Mark Birtwistle has led Eastern University to a 687-217 record and 17 NCAA appearances in his 27 seasons.

The Eagles have compiled a 28-16 record in 17 NCAA postseason appearances.

Eastern University is a co-educational, comprehensive Christian university that integrates faith, reason and justice for its 3,616 students. This university located near Philadelphia, Pa., offers undergraduate and graduate programs for college students, and strives to provide the very best.

Emory University

Emory University enters the quarterfinals on an 11-match winning streak as it attempts to win a second national championship.

The Eagles’ current winning streak includes a three-set sweep over Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) in the final of the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship. Emory University then clinched a spot among the final eight teams by sweeping The College at Brockport (N.Y.) at the Brockport Regional.

Senior middle hitter Jessica Holler was selected as the Brockport Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after being named the Player of the Year in the UAA. She leads Emory University with 395 kills, 130 blocks and 40 service aces.

The Emory University lineup also features senior right-side hitter Sarah Maher, sophomore middle hitter Sydney Leimbach and senior outside hitter Kathryn Trinka. Maher has contributed 276 kills and 348 digs while Leimbach has added 273 kills and 93 blocks, and Trinka has 257 kills.

Head coach Jenny McDowell has led Emory University to a 684-152 record, one national title and NCAA postseason appearances in each of her 21 seasons.

The Eagles have a 45-21 record in 22 trips to the Division III Championship.

Located in Atlanta, Georgia’s historic Druid Hills neighborhood, Emory University is a top ranked private institution recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, and one of the world’s leading health care systems.

Southwestern University

Southwestern University is making its first quarterfinals appearance after reaching the regional final for the third time program history.

The Pirates won their first 19 matches of the year before losing in five sets to Trinity University (Texas), which also defeated Southwestern University in four sets in the final of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship.

Southwestern University began the Dallas (Texas) Regional by slipping past the University of La Verne (Calif.) in five sets before eventually outlasting regional host University of Texas at Dallas in five sets during the title match to improve its record to 33-4.

The Pirates were represented on the Dallas Regional All-Tournament team by sophomore outside hitter Jamison Duck, the regional’s Most Outstanding Player, as well as senior libero Andie Alford and senior middle blocker Kirby Kincannon.

Kate Mitchell leads Southwestern University with 449 kills while Duck has contributed 363. Alford paces the Pirate back row with 683 digs, Kincannon has 258 kills and 117 blocks, and senior setter Nikki Welch has amassed a nation-leading 1,409 assists with 413 digs.

Head coach Don Flora is in his first season at Southwestern University. He compiled a 336-146 record in two previous coaching stops, including 269 wins and one national title at the University of La Verne from 1998 to 2008.

Southwestern University has a 13-13 record in 14 NCAA postseason appearances.

For 175 years, Southwestern University has been engaging minds and transforming lives. Located in the heart of Central Texas, the university allows its 1,528 students to enjoy the warm, small-town feel of historic Georgetown as well as the proximity of Austin with its vibrant, innovative and creative culture.

Tufts University

Tufts University is back in the quarterfinals for the first time in seven years.

The Jumbos fell in five sets during the final match of the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament but went on to avenge two of their three season losses as the hosts of the Medford (Mass.) Regional, ousting University of Massachusetts Boston during the semifinals and Springfield College (Mass.) in the final.

Sophomore outside hitter Mackenzie Bright was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Medford Regional after recording 18 kills in the title match as Tufts University improved its record to 27-3.

Bright was joined on the regional’s All-Tournament Team by Tufts University senior middle hitter Elizabeth Ahrens and senior middle hitter McKenzie Humann.

Brigid Bell paces the balanced Jumbos offense with 251 kills, followed by Ahrens with 209, Humann with 193 and Bright with 192. Humann has also added a team-leading 111 blocks.

Head coach Cora Thompson has compiled a 327-112 record and seven NCAA postseason trips in 14 seasons with the Jumbos.

Tufts University owns an 11-7 record in eight NCAA Championship appearances.

Located in Medford, Mass., Tufts University is a student-centered research university dedicated to the creation and application of knowledge. The institution is committed to providing transformative experiences for students and faculty in an inclusive and collaborative environment where creative scholars generate bold ideas, innovate in the face of complex challenges and distinguish themselves as active citizens of the world.

University of Mary Washington

University of Mary Washington had won just one NCAA postseason match, 25 years ago, before advancing to the quarterfinals this season.

The Eagles’ lone previous NCAA championship victory was a three-set win in 1991, but this year they earned the right to host the Fredericksburg (Va.) Regional and secured a trip to Wisconsin with a four-set victory over Juniata College (Pa.) in the final.

University of Mary Washington captured the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Tournament championship with a pair of three-set wins and enter the national quarterfinals with a 31-3 record.

Eagles freshman outside hitter Savannah Powers, the CAC Rookie of the Year, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Fredericksburg Regional. She leads the team with 355 kills.

Joining Powers on the regional’s All-Tournament Team were University of Mary Washington senior setter Emma Olson and freshman outside hitter Peyton Dunow. Olson has 1,169 assists and 338 digs while Dunow has 227 kills and 196 digs.

Head coach Matt Troy has a 93-35 record and two NCAA postseason appearances in four seasons with the Eagles. He owns a 170-56 record overall, including 77 wins and two regional visits with Johns Hopkins University (Md.).

University of Mary Washington has a 4-3 record in four NCAA postseason appearances.

Located in Fredericksburg, University of Mary Washington is one of Virginia’s outstanding public liberal arts universities, providing a superior education that inspires and enables our students to make positive changes in the world. The university is a place where faculty, students, and staff share in the creation and exploration of knowledge through freedom of inquiry, personal responsibility, and service.

University of Northwestern

The University of Northwestern is in the national quarterfinals for the first time in any NCAA sport.

The Eagles won their fifth consecutive Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament title and earned the right to host the St. Paul (Minn.) Regional. After a pair of three-set wins to open the regional, University of Northwestern dethroned defending national champion California Lutheran University in five sets during the regional final.

University of Northwestern junior outside hitter Lindsey Peterson, the UMAC Player of the Year, was named the St. Paul Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after recording 24 kills and 33 digs in the regional final. She leads the team with 607 kills.

Eagles senior middle blocker Shanay Gonder was also selected to the St. Paul Regional’s All-Tournament Team. She has 320 kills and a team-leading 138 blocks on the year while junior libero Jackie Doering paces University of Northwestern with 607 digs.

Head coach Beth Wilmeth has guided the Eagles to a 322-151 record and seven NCAA postseason appearances in 13 seasons, including a 33-4 mark this year.

University of Northwestern has compiled a 7-6 record in seven national postseason trips.

The University of Northwestern is a Christ-centered liberal arts university located in the heart of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. Students have gone to the University of Northwestern to learn and develop as leaders through Christ-centered, academically excellent education.

Washington University

Washington University, among the winningest NCAA Division III programs in history, is making its 23rd trip to the national quarterfinals and the program’s first since 2010.

The Bears have made 30 consecutive appearances in the national tournament, compiling a 101-20 record, 10 championships, four runner-up showings and a pair of third-place finishes.

This season, Washington University lost to Emory University in the semifinal round of the University Athletic Association Championship but responded with four straight victories, including three at the Whitewater (Wis.) Regional.

The Bears opened NCAA postseason play with a five-set win over Heidelberg University (Ohio) and concluded their regional run with a four-set victory over host University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Bears senior middle hitter Caroline Dupont was named the Whitewater Regional’s Most Outstanding Player while sophomore outside hitter Ifeoma Ufondu was also selected to the All-Tournament Team.

Dupont leads the Bears with 359 blocks and 129 blocks. Ufondu lists second on the squad with 331 kills while senior outside hitter Rexi Sheredy has contributed 304 kills and 370 digs.

Head coach Vanessa Walby has led the Bears to a 94-19 record and NCAA postseason appearances in each of her three seasons. Her overall coaching record of 257-90 includes 163 wins and four NCAA trips in six seasons at the University of Chicago (Ill.).

Washington University creates an environment to encourage and support an ethos of wide-ranging exploration. The university’s faculty and staff strive to enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of the greater St. Louis community, the country and the world.

UW-Oshkosh Host Championship Website

NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship Bracket