Nov. 4, 2009

By Amy Farnum

COMETS CRUISE: UT Dallas completed the regular season as the only Division III squad without a loss this year as the Comets swept UT Tyler on Oct. 31, earning the top seed in the American Southwest Conference Tournament beginning Nov. 6.

Freshman libero Melanie Power compiled 43 digs in three matches last week to earn her fifth consecutive ASC East Division Defensive Player of the Week award.  The native of San Antonio, Texas, contributed 16 digs in the Comets’ first-ever victory over Austin College.

After posting the first undefeated regular season in ASC history, the Comets (23-0) received a bye in the first round of the league championship.  The Comets, the host of the tournament, will play in the semifinals on Nov. 6.

“Hopefully they’ll take care of business and defend their house,” said head coach Marci Sanders. “It has to come down to skill, execution and strategy. If we do the things we’ve been doing all season, we’ll be fine.”

RAY OF LIGHT:  UW-Oshkosh senior middle blocker Jacque Ray garnered Sports Imports/AVCA Division III National Player of the Week after leading the Titans to a trio of victories over nationally-ranked foes at the Trinity University National Invite last weekend.

The Titans had been knocked down to No. 2 in the AVCA Division III Top 25 after a loss to UW-Whitewater two weeks ago, but responded with wins over No. 8 Wittenberg, No. 18 Trinity and No. 1 Juniata in the tournament.   Their 3-2 victory over Juniata was the 15th straight win in a five-set match dating back to the 2007 NCAA Division III Championship game.

Ray, a native of Richland Center, Wis., posted a .410 hitting percentage along with 3.91 kills and 1.27 blocks per set, also earning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

The Titans regained the No. 1 spot in the national poll after the 3-0 week, and will host the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Nov. 6-7.  The Titans will face UW-Eau Claire in the second semifinal match on Friday.

BLAZING HOT: The College of Saint Benedict claimed the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title for the first time since 1998, earning hosting rights for the league tournament on Nov. 5-7.

Junior rightside hitter Kayli Schumacher knocked down 25 kills with a .488 hitting percentage against St. Catherine, and followed it up with five kills versus Concordia secure the top seed in the MIAC playoffs.

The Blazers will host Concordia in the semifinals on Nov. 5 – their second straight match against the Cobbers.

TITLE TALK: After claiming its first Ohio Athletic Conference regular season title since 1986, Heidelberg University picked up a victory over eighth-seeded Muskingum in the first round of the OAC Tournament on Nov. 3.  Ohio Northern, ranked sixth in the nation, had won the last three straight regular season OAC titles.

The victory over Muskingum secured Heidelberg hosting rights for the remainder of the OAC Tournament, and the Berg will face Otterbein in semifinal action on Nov. 7.

The win also gave head coach Jason Miller his 200th victory at the helm of the program, improving his record to 200-139.  The Berg is ranked No. 19 in the latest AVCA Division III Top 25.