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MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/11/11)—In a match-up of schools located less than three miles from one another, Bethel used late-set surges to sweep Northwestern 26-24, 25-21, 25-21 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the Moorhead Regional on Friday.

The Royals were able to pull away from the Eagles late in every set to earn their 23rd win of the season. The opening set featured 14 tie scores and neither team had more than a two-point advantage through the entire 50-point contest.

That theme would play out for the entire match. The teams would stay close until a late-set rally by Bethel would gain them the win. The Royals jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second but the Eagles came soaring back by winning six of the next nine points to tie the score at 7-7. The match would stay within one point until Bethel went on a 4-0 run to take a 17-13 lead. Northwestern never recovered from that mid-set surge and wound up losing by those four points.

The third set was once again close until the final 17 points. Leading 16-13, Bethel won the match on the strength of a 5-1 streak. Northwestern battled until the very end, getting to within three points at 24-21 before the Royals won on a service error.

Bethel (23-9) hit an impressive .300 for the three sets. They had a match-high .406 attack percentage in the second set. The Royals were led by Nicole Wriedt who had 13 kills and finished with a match-high .429 hitting percentage. Kate Smith came up with 31 assists and Valerie Smith added a team-high 16 digs.

Northwestern hit .205 in the game but also had eight service errors. Chelsea Koth hit .289 and had a team-high 16 kills. Greta King, who started her career at Concordia-Moorhead and wound up playing her first and last collegiate match in Memorial Auditorium, had 11 kills and 11 digs to post a double-double. Krista Stoltz had 37 assists and Lexi Bertsch amassed a team-high 16 digs.

Bethel advances to the Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2007. It will be their third overall trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in school history. Northwestern finishes the year with a record of 27-7.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/11/11)—St. Thomas scored seven of the first eight points in their match-up with UW-Eau Claire and never looked back, as they cruised to a 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the Moorhead Regional on Friday.

It marks the second straight year that the Tommies have beaten the Blugolds in the NCAA Tournament. Last year UST posted a 25-14, 25-23, 25-19 sweep in the Regional Semifinals.

The Tommies set the tone in the match by racing out to a 7-1 lead in the opening set. St. Thomas also had a 5-0 run in the first contest to post the seven-point win. UST hit a match-high .293 in the opening set.

UW-Eau Claire (22-13) responded in the second set by getting out to an early 2-0 lead but then the Tommies went on one of their patented runs and won 10 of the next 13 points to take a 10-5 lead. That would as close as the Blugolds would get for the remainder of the set as they trailed by as many nine points before St. Thomas earned a 2-0 lead with a 25-17 win.

The third set was the closest of the match even though the Tommies threatened to blow it open in the  early stages. UST won four of the first five points before Eau Claire called a timeout. The coaching tactic worked with the Blugolds picking up the next five points to take a 6-4 lead. The teams would battle within two points of one another until the very end of the match when St. Thomas won three of the final four points and finished off with a 25-21 win.

St. Thomas (30-4), after peaking with the .200-plus attack percentage in the first set, finished the match by hitting .219. The Tommie defense held UW-Eau Claire to just a .070 attack percentage in the second set before the Blugolds hit .205 in the third to finish with a mark of .137.

The Tommies had two players with double-digit kill totals. Nicole Potts and Jill Greenfield both had 11 winners each. Potts also had a match-high .364 attack percentage while Greenfield posted a match-high 18 digs. Veteran setter Ashley Maher had 38 assists for the match and MIAC Rookie of the Year Kelly Foley had a team-high 2.0 blocks.

UW-Eau Claire had only one player with more than six kills in the match. Kelly Schuh had 11 kills to go with 10 digs to post the double-double. Lauren Sutherland collected a team-high 13 digs and Emily Neave had 25 assists.

St. Thomas advances to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the third straight season and will tournament newcomer St. Scholastica who advanced to the second round by outlasting St. Ben’s 3-2 earlier in the day. That first semifinal in the Moorhead Regional will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 3:30 p.m.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (11/11/11)—St. Scholastica rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat St. Benedict 3-2 (25-23,18-25,23-25,25-19,15-9) in the first round on the NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament on Friday in Moorhead. The Saints pick up a victory in their first-ever NCAA playoff game.

St. Scholastica (27-6) showed no signs of nerves in the opening set of the national playoffs as they came up with big points down the stretch in the opening set to win 25-23. The Saints went on a 4-0 run after the set was tied 18-18 and then closed out the opener by winning the final two points. St. Scholastica won the opening set despite hitting a mere .067.

St. Benedict (27-6) then rattled off two straight set wins behind the hitting of Lexi Alm who had more than 15 kills in the first three sets combined. The Blazers trailed for most of the second set but then came up with 11 of the final 14 points to win by seven. They used the same plan in the third set, getting behind early but then roared back at the end with five of the final seven points to earn the 25-23 victory.

The fourth set, and possibly the match, turned in favor of St. Scholastica after the score was tied at 8-8. The tandem of Paige Hardy and Anna Zyvoloski combined for eight points in the final stretch and the Saints went on to win 25-19.

St. Scholastica carried that momentum over into the fifth set, winning four of the first five points. The Saints defense took over and never allowed the Blazers to get to within four points for the majority of the deciding contest and claimed a 15-9victory to earn the match win.

Hardy led the Saints with 20 kills and also had 18 digs. Zyvoloski started slow but then went on to finish with 17 kills and 22 digs. Nikki Hughes added a match-high 27 digs and Sarah Kurtovich finished with 47 assists. Caitlin McKernon was a force at the net as she came up with a match-high eight blocks.

St. Benedict was led by Alm who ended the match with 21 kills. She also had 21 digs. Chelsea Sobieck was the only other Blazer player with more than 10 kills in the match. She had 13 kills and 25 digs. Taya Kockleman had 52 assists in the loss and Chelsea Rachel came away with 26 digs.

St. Scholastica will play the winner of the St. Thomas (MN)/Wis.-Eau Claire match in the second round on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 3:30 p.m.

For the first time ever the NCAA will not be producing a program for the volleyball championships. Instead, they are producing an online version where fans can go and see all the info they would have normally gotten in the program.

We will be handing out inserts into a roster handout that has a QR code which fans can scan with their smart phone and it will take them right to the program.

If you can’t wait until Friday (later today) here is the link to the online version.

2011 NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament Program

Welcome to the audio interview page for Thursday’s practice session. We will hopefully have an interview with the head coach and one player.

First up is St. Scholastica. The Saints are making their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament and had the first practice session of the day. Head Coach Dana Moore has been to the NCAA Tournament as the site rep and said that her experience has helped feel comfortable with the whole national playoff process. After Coach Moore we talked with UMAC Player of the Year Anna Zyvoloski.

After St. Scholastica we caught up to the MIAC Tournament champions Concordia and talked with head coach Tim Mosser and MIAC Player of the Year Jenna Green.

(Updated 5:55) Just added interviews from St. Ben’s head coach Nicole Hess and senior All-Conference performer  Chelsie Sobieck. Coach Hess talks about how special the NCAA Tournament is even though they are playing in one of their  conference opponent’s gyms and then Chelsie talks about the difference in her role from freshman season when the Blazers won the regional tournament and advanced to the Elite 8.

We then tracked down St. Thomas coach Thanh Pham and MIAC Rookie of the Year Kelly Foley. Thanh discusses how NCAA Tournaments never get old because each team is different and then Kelly shows her youthful exuberance in the interview as she talks about playing in her first national tournament.

(Updated 6:35 p.m) Bethel finished practice after spending some extra time on the warm-up floor. We were able to talk with head coach Gretchen Hunt and 2011 All-MIAC middle blocker Amy Werner. Coach Hunt talked about the team’s trend during the season to post big wins and then struggle in some losses. Amy reveals how the team was completely surprised by getting the bid into the NCAA Tournament.

(Updated 8:26 p.m.) Two more teams had the chance to finish practice and sit down for audio interviews. Northwestern head coach Beth Wilmeth talks about what her team needs to do well to succeed against Bethel and All-UMAC performer Greta King discusses coming full circle with starting her career at Concordia and then coming back to Moorhead to play in the NCAA Tournament in her senior season.

The first Wisconsin school finished their practice and head coach Stacey White  talks about making the national playoffs for the first time in years and what will happen if the team is playing against Concordia. All-WIAC outside hitter Christina Brinkman reveals what the favorite movie on the long bus ride was.

(Updated 10:33 p.m.) Had to sit through the regional administrator’s meeting and then take care of some odds ‘n ends before finally getting the chance to post the final audio interviews from UW-Eau Claire. We were able to catch up with head coach Kim Wudi and she talked candidly about what it means to be back in the tournament and have the chance to play St. Thomas in the first round. We then got to talk with our third conference Player of the Year as we chatted with senior middle hitter Liz Amici. Liz discusses what she needs to do tomorrow to help the Blugolds be successful.

And that is the end of the practice day interviews. We hope you enjoyed all the audio from a great opening day of the regional.

**Note – All files are mp3

St. Scholastica
Head Coach Dana Moore  

UMAC Player of the Year Anna Zyvoloski

Concordia
Head Coach Tim Mosser

MIAC Player of the Year Jenna Green

St. Ben’s
Head Coach Nicole Hess

All-MIAC  outside hitter Chelsie Sobieck

St. Thomas
Head Coach Thanh Pham

MIAC Rookie of the Year Kelly Foley

Bethel
Head Coach Gretchen Hunt

All-MIAC middle blocker Amy Werner

Northwestern
Head Coach Beth Wilmeth

All-UMAC outside hitter Greta King

UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach Stacey White

All-WIAC outside hitter Christina Brinkman

UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach Kim Wudi

WIAC Player of the Year Liz Amici

ST. PAUL (11/10/110)– 12 student-athletes from five different institutions were named to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Volleyball All-Conference First Team on Thursday as Northwestern College led all schools with four first team honorees. Right behind the Eagles was the College of St. Scholastica with three. Northwestern and St. Scholastica shared the UMAC regular season championship while the Saints took the UMAC Tournament title and earned their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.

St. Scholastica’s Anna Zyvoloski was named the UMAC Player of the Year after placing second amongst all UMAC players with 4.02 kills per set and ranking first in service aces (0.49 per set). Zyvoloski also had top 10 finishes in both blocks and digs as she played all six rotations in Saints head coach Dana Moore’s system.

The University of Minnesota Morris’ Kaylie Clark earned defensive player of the year accolades as she led the UMAC in digs (4.20 per set) in her sophomore season. Clark also was amongst the top 10 in kills per set on offense. Martin Luther College’s Miranda Maasz and Minnesota Morris’ Emily Auch were named the UMAC Co-Rookies of the Year. Maasz averaged 9.08 assists per set (third overall) in conference contests while Auch placed seventh in digs per set, averaging 3.54 in UMAC affairs.

Martin Luther head coach Rebecca Cox was voted the UMAC Coach of the Year by her peers, taking her team to a 10-4 mark in UMAC play, which was a two-win improvement from the Knights’ previous season.

Northwestern College won the team sportsmanship award, an accolade that is selected by the UMAC coaches to best represent sportsmanship throughout the entire 2011 season. Each of the eight teams had one representative on the individual sportsmanship award list:

Amanda Edmison, Bethany Lutheran College
Cortney Rykken, College of St. Scholastica
Kristin Buresh, Crown College
Jen Draeger, Martin Luther College
Ashley King, Northland College
Taylor Filzen, Northwestern College
Kelli Boekelheide, Presentation College
Brita Humphrey, University of Minnesota Morris

Below is a full listing of the 2011 UMAC Volleyball postseason awards.

1st Team All-Conference
Name
Institution
Year
Position
Shelby Vischer
Crown College
Junior
Outside Hitter
Paige Hardy
College of St. Scholastica
Junior
Outside Hitter
Sarah Kurtovich
College of St. Scholastica
Junior
Setter
Anna Zyvoloski*
College of St. Scholastica
Junior
Outside Hitter
Rebecca Engelbrecht
Martin Luther College
Sophomore
Outside Hitter
Rachel Hein
Martin Luther College
Junior
Middle Hitter
Courtney Jonas
Northwestern College
Junior
Middle Hitter
Greta King
Northwestern College
Senior
Outside Hitter
Chelsea Koth
Northwestern College
Senior
Outside Hitter
Krista Stoltz
Northwestern College
Sophomore
Setter
Kaylie Clark
University of Minnesota, Morris
Sophomore
Outside Hitter
Natalie Thomas
University of Minnesota, Morris
Senior
Setter
 
Honorable Mention All-Conference
Name
Institution
Year
Position
Amanda Edminson
Bethany Lutheran College
Senior
Outside Hitter
Nikki Hughes
College of St. Scholastica
Senior
Libero
Taylor Tyllia
College of St. Scholastica
Junior
Outside Hitter
Judy Mundt
Crown College
Junior
Setter
Emily Boldt
Martin Luther College
Senior
Middle Hitter
Miranda Maasz
Martin Luther College
Freshman
Setter
Cari Miller
Northwestern College
Freshman
Outside Hitter
Megan Goedert
Presentation College
Freshman
Outside Hitter
Emily Auch
University of Minnesota, Morris
Freshman
Outside Hitter
Steph Schmiesing
University of Minnesota, Morris
Junior
Middle Hitter

*Player of the Year Award – Anna Zyvoloski (College of St. Scholastica)
Co-Rookie of the Year Award – Miranda Maasz (Martin Luther College), Emily Auch (University of Minnesota, Morris)
Defensive Player of the Year Award – Kaylie Clark (University of Minnesota, Morris)
Coach of the Year Award – Rebecca Cox (Martin Luther College)
Team Sportsmanship Award – Northwestern College

Central Region Fun Facts
– The Central Regional might have one of the most diverse group of nicknames in the tournament. There are three schools with nicknames after animals (Pointers, Eagles, Tomcats). Yes, St. Thomas’ long ago nickname is “The Tomcats” (check out their mascot). They have since simplified it to Tommies.
– There are a pair of titles we all aspire to (Saints, Royals).
– There is one red-hot team (Blazers) and two “what is that nickname all about” schools (Cobbers, Blugolds). The name Cobbers has many meanings but we are sticking with the old Australian slang term of “good buddy”. The Blugold’s debate is even more heated and we like the explanation that it came from rearranging the letters in “bulldog’.
– The UW-Eau Claire sports information department also wins the award for the best description of how to spell the nickname – one word, no “e”, no hyphen, no capital “G”.
– Of the eight teams in the regional – gold is the dominant color. Six of the eight schools have gold listed as their secondary color (St. Scholastica, UW-Eau Claire, Bethel, Northwestern, Concordia and UW-Stevens Point ). St. Ben’s and St. Thomas aren’t very golden at this year’s regional.
– There are three shades of blue at the tournament (and all but one team will be feeling another type of blue after the weekend). There is royal blue (St. Scholastica), navy blue (UW-Eau Claire) and regular ol’ blue (Bethel).
Prince (or the artist formerly known as Prince) would feel right at home in the regional. Three teams have purple as one of their school colors (St. Thomas, Northwestern and UW-Stevens Point). And the other five schools are hoping that it won’t be a Purple “Reign” at the end of the weekend!
– St. Ben’s has the only unique color combination of the regional. Who would have thought the colors red and white would be unique in an eight-team tourney?
– Concordia and St. Thomas have unique single colors and both will be hoping that they won’t feel marooned or stranded on “Gray Street” once the regional is over.
– Six of the eight teams have letters in their logo. Only Northwestern and UW-Stevens Point have letter-less logos (and no, we are not counting the letters on Stevie Pointer’s sweater).
– We know of only two schools that have named their mascots. Concordia – Kernel  and UW-Stevens Point – Stevie and Stephanie Pointer.
– The biggest school at the regional is UW-Eau Claire with a listed enrollment of 10,500
– Half the regional has enrollment numbers over 5,000
– Playing the role of “David” at the regional is Northwestern. They are the smallest school at 1,800 undergrads.
– The oldest school at the regional is St. Thomas which was founded in 1885. The immediate brothers and sisters of St. Thomas in the regional are Concordia (1891) and UW-Stevens Point (1894).
– The close cousins at the regional are Northwestern (1902), St. Scholastica (1912), St. Ben’s (1913) and UW-Eau Claire (1916).
– Eating at the kiddie – nieces and nephews – table at the regional will be Bethel (1947).
– The Rascal Flatts award at the regional, for living the song “Life is a Highway”, goes to UW-Stevens Point which had to travel 447 miles to get to Moorhead.
– St. Ben’s made the shortest trip with a mere 161-mile jaunt to play.
– The “Bus Pool” award goes to Northwestern and Bethel which are located less than four miles away from one another. There is no truth to the rumor that the pairings for the first round were put together by the USGA.
– Northwestern and Bethel could have added St. Thomas to their caravan. The two schools would have had to only travel 13 miles to pick up the Tommies.
– It’s a woman’s world at the regional. Six of the eight coaches are female.
– Concordia head coach Tim Mosser gets the “Wiley Veteran” award. His 19-year tenure is the longest at the regional.
– St. Ben’s coach Nichole Hess gets the “Newbie” label. She is leading the Blazers to the national tournament in only her second year at CSB.
– Four of the eight coaches have been at their schools for more than 10 years (Mosser, UWSP- Stacey White, 11years; BU-Gretchen Hunt, 11 years; STS-Dana Moore, 15 years) and two  coaches are closing in on the decade award (UST-Thanh Pham, 9 years; NC – Beth Wilmeth, 8 years).