Sept. 29, 2010

TALK ABOUT TOUGH: The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference is known for having some of the nations best Division II womens volleyball teams annually, including three-time defending NCAA champion Concordia-St. Paul, but this season the league is jam-packed with talented squads.

The NSIC currently boasts the top three teams in the nation - No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth, No. 2 Wayne State (Neb.) and No. 3 Southwest Minnesota State - in the most recent AVCA Division II Top 25, plus, Concordia-St. Paul sits in the No. 6 spot.

UMD took over the No. 1 spot after matching its best start in school history at 14-0 following a pair of five-set victories over then-No. 4 Southwest Minnesota State and then-No. 12 Minnesota State-Mankato. It is the first time the Bulldogs have held the top ranking since 2002. Middle blocker Alyssa Nelson starred for UMD last week, collecting 17 total blocks (1.21 per set) during the Bulldogs 3-0 week.

The Bulldogs will test their No. 1 ranking at No. 2 Wayne State on Oct. 2. The Wildcats are also unbeaten on the season after downing Augustana on Sept. 28. The squads split their two meetings last year.

In a non-conference match between league foes, No. 3 SMSU and No. 6 Concordia-St. Paul met on Sept. 28 with the Mustangs defeating the Golden Bears for the first time since 2007. Sophomore Brooke Burmeister knocked down 18 kills with a .317 hitting percentage for the Mustangs.

GOLDEN LIONS ROAR: Dowling College cracked the AVCA Division II Top 25 at No. 24 this week, and followed it up by improving to 11-0 on the season with a sweep of C.W. Post on Tuesday.

The Golden Lions entered the week leading Division II with a .359 hitting percentage, and the nations second-ranked team in assists (13.67) and kills (14.96) per set. Dowling has three players ranked in the top six individually in hitting percentage led by Patrycja Klekota (.473).

Dowlings win over C.W. Post was its second in East Coast Conference play. They look to remain perfect at Queens College on Sept. 30.

OTTER ACCOMPLISHMENT: Cal State Monterey Bay broke into the AVCA Division II Top 25 for the first time in program history after starting the season with a 9-1 mark, including three victories over nationally-ranked teams.

The Otters most recent win over a ranked opponent was a 3-1 victory versus No. 20 Cal State L.A. on Sept. 24. Their only setback of the season was a loss to then-No. 4 Cal State San Bernardino, last years NCAA runner-up.

"It is an honor to be included in the AVCA national ranking," said head coach Jody Garry. "I am proud of my team's consistency in their focus for each match. We defended our home court which was important as we have the next eight out of 10 matches on the road. It's a long tough season so we will continue to focus on one match at a time."

FALCONS FLYING: Seattle Pacific remained flawless on the year, improving to 13-0 with a victory over Montana State Billings on Monday night after the Falcons had climbed up to No. 15 in the most recent AVCA Division II Top 25.

Middle blocker Nikki Lowell set a SPU single-match record as she hit at a .833 clip with 10 kills and no errors on 12 total attempts to lead the Falcons to their fourth straight sweep.

The Falcons will put their perfect record on the line when they host defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Alaska Anchorage on Sept. 30. SPU head coach will be vying for his 100th career victory against UAA.

BARRYS BEST: Barry University senior outside hitter Julia Teixeira garnered Sports Imports/AVCA Division II National Player of the Week after averaging 5.30 kills, 2.80 digs and 6.20 points per set, while hitting .406 in two Sunshine State Conference victories last week.

Teixeira notched a double-double effort with 15 kills and 11 digs against Lynn, and followed with 17 kills, six digs and three aces in a sweep of Florida Tech. She currently ranks fourth in the nation with 4.50 kills per set and fifth in Division II with 5.17 points per set.

Barry broke into the latest AVCA Division II Top 25 at No. 25 after improving to 7-1 last week.