When the seventeenth annual National Christian College Athletic Association National Volleyball Tournament gets under way on Thursday at Cedarville University, one familiar team will be among the ten teams competing for the 2000 national title.
For the eleventh consecutive season, the Mount Vernon Nazarene College women's volleyball team will be a part of the championship event. The Lady Cougars, who finished as the NCCAA East Region runner-up, are the sixth-seed and will enter the tournament on a six-match winning streak.
MVNC is 29-9 overall and recently claimed a share of its third straight American Mideast Conference title. The Lady Cougars are led by junior outside hitters Darcee Hoberg and Amanda Schumm, who average 3.38 and 3.35 kills per game respectively. Junior setter Andrea Rudd is also among the NCCAA national leaders by handing out 10.77 assists per game.
"It is a great privilege to represent MVNC at the national tournament," said head coach Paul Swanson. "This is always a very competitive event with great teams from around the country. Our goal is to be playing on Saturday (in the semifinals) and see what happens from there."
The other four teams in the Lady Cougars' pool are second-seeded Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) University, third-seeded Christian Heritage (Calif.) College, seventh-seeded MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) University, and tenth-seeded Cedarville.
The Lady Tigers of Olivet Nazarene enter the tournament with a 29-8 overall record. The team earned its berth in the tournament by winning the North Central Region title. The Lady Tigers are led by junior Caryn Boer (3.09 kills per game) and senior Sara Pohl (1.30 blocks per game).
The Lady Hawks of Christian Heritage are the defending NCCAA national champions and enter the tournament with a 10-16 overall record. The Lady Hawks, who earned the West Region bid, are led by senior Heather Davis (3.41 kills and .73 aces per game) and freshman Leah Mallinger (11.20 assists per game).
The Lady Pioneers of MidAmerica Nazarene enter the tournament with a 21-12 overall record after claiming the Central Region title. MidAmerica Nazarene is led by junior Mindy Urie (3.85 kills per game) and sophomore Heather Punches (9.96 assists per game).
The host Yellow Jackets of Cedarville enter the tournament with a 26-8 overall record after finishing third at the Midwest Region Tournament. Cedarville is led by junior Heather van der Aa (4.07 kills per game) and senior Lori Bunger (11.21 assists per game).
The other pool of five teams consists of top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan University, fourth-seeded Malone College, fifth-seeded Union (Tenn.) University, eighth-seeded Grace (Ind.) College, and ninth-seeded Tennessee Temple University.
The Lady Wildcats of Indiana Wesleyan come into the tournament with a 35-2 overall record and a lofty #13 ranking in the latest NAIA national poll. Indiana Wesleyan, who won the Midwest Region title, is led by sophomore Sarah McCurdy (3.25 kills and .70 aces per game) and freshman Gina Proffitt (12.08 assists per game).
The Lady Pioneers of Malone enter the tournament with a 24-10 overall record and are in the midst of a 15-match winning streak. Malone earned its second straight berth in the national tournament by winning the East Region Tournament. The Lady Pioneers are led by senior Kim Slone (3.55 kills per game) and junior Nicole Jackson (10.55 assists per game).
The Bulldogs of Union bring a 31-4 record with them into action this weekend. Union, which recently won its second straight TranSouth Athletic Conference title, earned its berth in the national tournament by winning the Mideast Region Tournament. Junior Lauren Hayden leads the team and the NCCAA in kills per game at 6.01 and also contributes 4.22 digs per game.
The Lady Lancers of Grace College enter the tournament with a 22-15 overall record after finishing as the Midwest Region runner-up. Grace, which recently won its second straight Mid-Central Conference title, is one of only two teams to beat top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan this season. The Lady Lancers are led by senior Kate Millen (3.21 kills and 1.42 blocks per game) and sophomore Tricia Doyle (3.50 kills per game).
The Lady Crusaders of Tennessee Temple bring a 29-3 overall record to the tournament after earning their berth by winning the South Region Tournament. Tennessee Temple is led by freshman Kathleen McKinny, who leads the NCCAA by averaging 12.12 assists per game. Freshman Adrianna Chinchilla also averages 4.65 kills per game.
Each team will play four pool play matches - two on Thursday and two on Friday. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the single elimination portion of the tournament on Saturday.
MVNC will face Christian Heritage at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday followed by a match against Olivet Nazarene at 5:00 p.m. Then, on Friday, the Lady Cougars will square off with MidAmerica Nazarene at 2:00 p.m. and Cedarville at 6:00 p.m.