To understand elements of the Spartan volleyball team’s extraordinary success this season, just view this video of the players watching the NCAA Division III Championships Selection Show Monday.
(One tip, though: Definitely turn down the volume before pressing “play”).
First, they have laser-fast reflexes. The very nanosecond the players heard “Case…” the players were on their feet.
Second, they have seriously impressive cardiovascular capacity (hey, we did warn you about the sound).
Third, they are truly a team. As soon as they were standing, they were hugging, and then they were racing to add someone else to their embrace.
Sure, each athlete has unique strengths. But after 31 matches this season—and for the seniors, another 90 more—they’re no longer individuals on the court. They are a unit, a movement, and this evening in a small Pennsylvania town of just over 7,000, they intend to show just how powerful a united force can be.
Those unable to make the four-and-a-half hour drive to Juniata College in Huntingdon have three ways to follow the team’s fortunes when play starts at 5:30 this evening. They can:
Come to a “watch party” on the second floor of the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center; or
In this first round of the championship, the Spartans take on the Eagles of Mary Washington, who are making their first tournament appearance since 1991. Like Case Western Reserve (24-7), Mary Washington was one of the 20 teams to receive an at-large bid. The tournament’s 44 other teams came from champions of their respective conferences.
The Spartan’s senior outside hitter (and three-time captain) Carolyn Bogart and senior middle hitter Haley Kauffman will lead the Spartan’s attack. Bogart serves as a double threat, averaging a team-high 3.07 kills per set. She also averages 3.84 digs per set, second-highest on the team. Meanwhile, Kauffman tallies 2.96 kills per set with a season hitting percentage of .364.
Throughout the season, first-year setter Shannon Carroll recorded an average of 6.81 assists per set.
Senior libero Katie Best and first-year defensive specialist Andrea Lu lead the Spartans defense averaging 4.97 and 3.21 digs per set, respectively.
With CWRU volleyball’s only other NCAA Championship appearance coming in 2010, Farrell notes that none of the current members of the team have experienced an NCAA event. But the seniors have always been hungry to reach this level—and to capitalize on the opportunity.
“This team has been led by a great senior class,” head coach Karen Farrell said. “This is just a culmination of their hard work and passion.”
If the Spartans prevail, they will meet the winner of the first-round match between host and second-ranked Juniata College and Franciscan University. The second-round match will be held Saturday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m.
On the other side of the draw, Heidelberg University (26-5) will play McDaniel College (20-8), while fifth-ranked Wittenberg University (24-2) will play Bluffton College (19-12).
The regional championship game will be Sunday, Nov. 15, at 3 p.m.