Score: Saginaw Valley 3, Rockhurst 0 | NCAA Division II Midwest Regionals
Records: SVSU (20-11) | RU (27-7)
Location: Ewigleben Arena - Big Rapids, Mich.
BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - The SVSU volleyball team travelled to Ferris State University to compete in the opening round of this year's NCAA Division-II Midwest Regional Volleyball tournament. The Cardinals advanced to Friday's semifinal round after defeating the Rockhurst Hawks in straight sets, 3-0, on Thursday (Dec. 1) night.
The Cardinals began the first set trailling the Hawks by an 8-4 score. After an SVSU timeout, the team regrouped and rallied to tie the set at 12-12. Emily Nieman's service ace the following play gave Saginaw Valley a 13-12 lead, its first of the match. Rockhurst was unable to take back the lead from that point on. Saginaw Valley went a 12-4 run and had a .324 hitting percentage to close-out the first set and take a 1-0 advantage into the second.
Rockhurst fell behind 6-3 to begin the second set. The Hawks responded by tying the set at 6-6 and scoring four consecutive points to grab a 10-7 lead. Saginaw Valley chipped-away at the deficit with consecutive kills by Tamara Heller and McKenzie Schuster, tying the set at 10-10. SVSU and Rockhurst would trade points after that, with the Hawks edging out the Cardinals, 14-13. Two Rockhurst attack errors and consecutive kills by Kelly Vellucci gave SVSU the 18-14 nod and rolled into a second set victory and 2-0 lead, 25-18.
The third set began with three lead changes and a deficit no larger than two points for either team. With a 10-10 score, Saginaw Valley continued to stave off any comeback attempt from the Hawks, who were fighting to extend their season. The Cardinals regained the lead, thanks to a kill from Heller, pushing the score to 15-14. SVSU never fell below a two point deficit throughout the third set and rallied three more times in the frame, taking the third set by a 26-24 score and winning the match over the Hawks.
Inside the Boxscore
- The Cardinals beat Rockhurst 25-16, 25-18, 26-24, to secure their first NCAA tournament victory since the 2009 season.
- Schmitt finished with a match-high 14 kills, two blocks and a .420 hitting percentage, earning Chili's Player of the Match honors.
- Heller tallied seven kills and added 19 digs in the three-set victory.
- Vellucci had three kills and was credited with 37 assists, seven digs and two blocks.
- Nieman recorded a match-best 20 digs and added the team's only service ace.
- Andrea Brigham had 11 kills, 7 digs and .280 hitting percentage.
- The victory gives the Cardinals 20 on the season, marking two straight seasons with at least 20 wins.
Post-match Press Conference - Will Stanton & Kaylee Schmitt
The No. 5 regionally-seeded Cardinals advance to the NCAA Round of 32 now and will face-off against GLIAC North opponent and top regional seed Ferris State University on Friday for the third time this season. Saginaw Valley lost both regular season meetings to the Bulldogs this year, dropping a 3-0 decision on Nov. 5 and losing 3-1 two weeks later in the GLIAC tournament semifinals. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. in Big Rapids.
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