Lady Cougars Prepare for NCCAA
National Tournament Run
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Mount Vernon Nazarene University women’s volleyball team is back in familiar territory as the Lady Cougars make final preparations on Wednesday for the team’s fourteenth straight appearance in the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament, which will get under way on Thursday at Palm Beach Atlantic (Fla.) University.
MVNU (27-11), which is seeded third in the 10-team event, earned its berth by claiming the NCCAA East Region title. Junior outside hitter Amanda Stevens leads the Lady Cougars with 473 kills and 535 digs, while freshman middle hitter Shena Beheler adds 411 kills and a team-high 190 total blocks. Junior middle hitter Jenny Weaver has tallied 329 kills and 177 total blocks, and freshman setter Allison Klusmann has handed out 1,435 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Ickes and freshman middle hitter Rachael Stevens contribute 329 kills and 236 kills respectively, while freshman defensive specialist Brittany Dixon has posted 361 digs.
MVNU will open pool play on Thursday at noon against seventh-seeded Hope International (Calif.) University, which received an at-large berth in the tournament. The Royals are currently 15-14 overall and are led by senior Jennifer Dyche with 276 kills and 99 total blocks. Juniors Alyson Lumley and Ashley Ogle have pounded 247 and 230 kills respectively, and senior Danelle Guadamuz has posted 575 digs.
The Lady Cougars’ second pool play match on Thursday will be against sixth-seeded Bethel (Ind.) College at 4:00 p.m. The Lady Pilots are 25-14 overall and won the NCCAA North Central Region title. Junior Deanne Fritzen and sophomore Larae Woudstra were both named to the All-Region Team and have recorded 494 kills and 167 total blocks respectively.
On Friday, MVNU will continue pool play with a 10:00 a.m. match against tenth-seeded Oakland City University (17-15), the NCCAA Mid-East Region champion. The Lady Oaks are led by senior middle hitter Stephanie Nelson with 113 total blocks and junior libero Courtney Olds with 569 digs.
The Lady Cougars will then close out pool play with a 4:00 p.m. match on Friday against second-seeded Cedarville University. The Yellow Jackets, who are 36-3 overall and ranked 16th in the latest NAIA national poll, received an at-large berth in the tournament. Freshman middle hitter Sarah Zeltman leads Cedarville with 513 kills, while junior setter Kelsey Jones has handed out 1,511 assists.
"It is an honor to represent MVNU and the NCCAA East Region at the national tournament,” said MVNU head coach Paul Swanson. "This will be a very competitive field of teams, and we will have to play well to go very far. Our team is looking forward to this opportunity, and I’m excited to see how they respond to the challenge. It would be great for this team to be playing on Saturday.”
The other pool consists of top-seeded Palm Beach Atlantic (28-2), fourth-seeded Indiana Wesleyan University (26-8), fifth-seeded The Master’s (Calif.) College (13-12), eighth-seeded Malone College (26-15), and ninth-seeded Dallas Baptist (Texas) University (10-23).
The top two finishers in each pool will advance to the semifinals at noon on Saturday. The NCCAA national championship match will follow at 3:30 p.m.