Nov. 19, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. - The No. 6 University of Tampa (29-2) volleyball team overcame a slow start to earn a 3-0 victory over Albany State (Ga.) University (20-8) in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Division II South Regional. The Spartans won by scores of 25-21, 25-10, 25-13. Tampa is now 18-7 in opening round NCAA tourney matches with five straight wins.

Though the Spartans never trailed in the first set, it was hardly a runaway performance for UT as it never led by more than four points in the first frame. The mild scare energized the Spartans, who picked up easy victories in the final two sets en route to the three-set sweep.

Melissa, Vanderhall, who was named Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season earlier on Thursday, led the Spartans with 12 kills to go with a .526 hitting percentage. Fellow first-team all-SSC selection Kaleigh Cunningham chipped in seven kills for UT as second-team all-SSC performer Meghan Sherman led the way with 30 assists.

Eva Dupay led UT with 10 digs as the Spartans played without second-team all-SSC libero Julie Howlett. Jessica Yingling also tallied eight digs while earning the start at libero. Sam Macks, Cunningham and Vanderhall each added a block as Macks' was a solo.

In the match, all 12 Spartans who dressed earned playing time as UT outhit ASU by a .293 to .000 mark. Tampa also finished with nine service aces, led by Vanderhall with three.

UT returns to action in the South Regional semifinals on Friday at 7:30. It will meet Eckerd College in a matchup between SSC opponents. Saint Leo University and the University of West Florida will meet in the other semifinal, at 5 p.m. The South Region final is slated for Saturday at 7 p.m., at UT's Bob Martinez Sports Center.

Tampa will offer live stats and a webcast through Fans may follow University of Tampa athletics on Twitter ( and Facebook ( UT also offers eScores, which is a free text messaging service that sends text alerts following all Spartan events.