Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy of Nova Southeastern

TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 22, 2008) - The Nova Southeastern University women's volleyball team came back from a two set deficit for the second consecutive night to defeat University of West Florida and win the NCAA Division II South Regional Finals. The 20-25, 27-29, 25-22, 25-20 and 15-11 victory advances the Sharks (24-11) to the Elite Eight and marks the farthest NSU has ever advanced in program history.

Recovering from an emergency appendectomy the night before, NSU head coach Steve Wilcosky was not present during the match. However, under assistant coach Michelle Piantadosi, the Sharks showed the characteristic heart, passion and will to make their head coach proud. After the match the team visited the hospital and presented him with the championship trophy. A joyous Wilcosky remarked "I couldn't be any prouder."

NSU fell behind early in the opening set, trailing 17-11. The Sharks closed to within four points, but West Florida would go on to win 25-20. Even though the Sharks out-hit (.323 to .317) and out-blocked the Argonauts (3-0), NSU couldnt overcome six kills from West Floridas right side hitter Luciana Rapach. Senior outside hitter Melinda Gorman (Sarasota, Fla.) led the Sharks with four kills and no errors in seven attempts.

In a back and forth set that saw 16 ties and six lead changes, West Florida won in extra points, 29-27. The Argonauts out-hit NSU .300 to .185, led by outside hitter Chelsea Wilhoites four kills. NSU, which had three set points, was led by three seniors, as Gorman, middle blocker Emily Carle (Missouri City, Tex.) and setter Valia Petrova (Sofia, Bulgaria) had five, four and four kills, respectively. None of the three seniors recorded an error in the set.

Pushed up against the wall, NSU clawed back from a 17-12 deficit to win 25-23 in the third set. The Sharks picked up their defensive intensity, posting six blocks en route to limiting West Florida to a .91 attack percentage. Gorman, Carle and freshman middle blocker Molly Sigerich (Downers Grove, Ill.) each tallied three kills. Carle and junior outside hitter Jenerra McGruder (Euless, Tex.) had four blocks apiece. Libero Kathleen Yony (So., Miami, Fla.) contributed with five digs.

The block party continued for NSU in the fourth set, as the Sharks recorded five more blocks to hold the Argonauts to a -.029 hitting percentage. Petrova and McGruder each had three kills as NSU hit .207 as a team. Middle hitter Patricia Gandolfo had four kills for West Florida.

NSU jumped out to an early 6-2 advantage in the fifth set on back-to-back kills from Gorman and Sigerich. West Florida rallied to tie the set at nine apiece, before NSU pulled together to go on another 6-2 run to complete the 15-11 victory. The Sharks peaked at the right time, hitting a match high .474 in the final set. West Florida was held to a .208 hitting percentage. Carle, Sigerich, Petrova, Gorman and McGruder each had two kills in the Sharks balanced attack. Gandolfo led West Florida again with three kills.

For the match, NSU out-hit West Florida .248 to .181. The Sharks had six more kills, three more assists, five more digs and 14 more blocks than the Argonauts.

Gorman and Petrova led the Sharks to victory, with Gorman posting 16 kills, nine digs and six blocks while Petrova fell just one dig short of a triple-double with 12 kills, 50 assists and nine digs. Carle and Sigerich followed with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. McGruder contributed with six kill while seniors Christina Chubb (Oakland Park, Fla.) and Andrea Irarrazabal (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) added four and three kills apiece. Sophomore Paola Ruiz (Rio Piedras, P.R.) also had two kills for NSU.

Defensively, Yony had a match high 19 digs for Nova Southeastern. Defensive specialist Alison Kalish (Jr., Miami, Fla.) added seven digs. Sigerich and Carle tied for the match high with eight blocks each. Gorman tallied six blocks, including two solo, while McGruder had four.

Petrova, Gorman, Carle and Yony were all named to the NCAA Division II South Regional All-Tournament team.

NSU awaits word on the location and opponent in the Elite Eight.

NCAA Sunshine State Conference
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