Stars Receive At-Large Bid To National Tournament
Courtesy of Dominican University
RIVER FOREST, Ill. -- The Dominican University women's volleyball team makes just its second trip to the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship Tournament, this time earning an at-large bid after going 24-8 on the season, including a 3-4 mark against teams in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25. The Stars will head to St. Paul, Minn., to compete in the eight-team, single-elimination regional hosted by the University of St. Thomas. The Stars draw the College of St. Benedict Blazers (27-5) in the first round scheduled for Thursday.
The Stars and Blazers are slated to kick off the action at 12:30 PM followed by the Northwestern College Eagles (26-8) and UW-Stevens Point Pointers (29-7) at 3:00 PM. The Wartburg College Knights (35-5) will battle the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds (25-11) at 5:30 PM ahead of the St. Thomas Tommies (34-1) and Cornell College Rams (20-10) at 8:00 PM.
The Stars, under the guidance of second-year head coach Ryan Baumgartner, have faced just one of the seven other teams in the regional, falling the Cornell College Rams in three sets back on September 1 in just the second match of the season for the Stars. After splitting a pair of matches the following day, the Stars rattled off 12 straight wins before falling to Edgewood College, the Northern Athletics Conference's regular season co-champions, on September 28. Dominican's 12-match win streak was punctuated by a win over the Carthage College Lady Reds, ranked 16th at the time, at their own tournament. After another six-match win streak, Dominican went 2-3 in a five match stretch against top 20 opponents, with wins over Elmhurst College and the University of Chicago.
Dominican's hope for an automatic bid came to an end when the Stars fell to the Benedictine University Eagles in the NAC Tournament semifinals. The Benedictine Eagles went on to claim the NAC Tournament Title and earn the conference's automatic bid to the national tournament. Together, the two teams become the first two programs to represent the conference in the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship Tournament in the same season, with Dominican garnering the first-ever at-large bid for the conference.
The Stars, led by NAC Defensive Player of the Year Liz Yakey (Sun Prairie, Wis.) average 18.11 digs per set tops in the NAC. Yakey posts a conference-best 4.89 digs per set followed by Claire Dezelski (Northville, Mich.), Christina Wilson (Homer Glen, Ill.) and Caitlen Foote (Dexter, Mich.) who all average more than two digs per set.
Dezelski and Foote make up two-thirds of the Stars' offensive attack that averages 12.68 kills per set. Senior Jacy Lawrence (St. Louis, Mo.) paces the Stars at 3.49 kills per set with Wilson running the attack, averaging 7.12 assists per set throughout her freshman campaign.
No presale tickets will be available for the regional. Tickets will be on sale on the day of the match at St. Thomas. Tickets are $7 for general admission and $4 for students. Children two-years old and younger are free.
Complete Schedule of St. Thomas Regional
Thursday, Nov. 8
--Match 1: 12:30 p.m. -- St. Benedict (27-5) vs. Dominican University (24-8)
--Match 2: 3 p.m. -- Northwestern (26-8) vs. UW-Stevens Point (29-7)
--Match 3: 5:30 p.m. -- Wartburg (35-5) vs. UW-Eau Claire (25-11)
--Match 4: 8 p.m. -- St. Thomas (34-1) vs. Cornell (20-10)
Friday, Nov. 9
--Match 5: 4:30p.m. -- Match 1 winner vs. Match 2 winner
--Match 6: 7 p.m. -- Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner
Saturday, Nov. 10
Championship: 7 p.m.: Match 5 winner vs. Match 6 winner