Nov. 18, 2010

By Jim Faasen
Special to

When play begins at the 2010 NCAA Division III womens volleyball championship at the Washington University Field House on Friday, there will be a mix of venerable programs and Cinderellas vying for the title.

Defending national champion Washington University will face a familiar foe in fellow University Athletic Association (UAA) team New York University. The No. 3 Bears and the No. 15 Violets play in the last quarterfinal on Friday at 8 p.m. (CST).

It's a rewarding feeling to be considered one of the top eight teams in Division III in America,” Washington University coach Rich Luenemann said. We relish the chance to compete in postseason play and to vie for the national championship.”

The match will also be the rubber match between the teams as NYU won when the teams played on Oct. 17, but Washington University won the Nov. 6 match.

The Bears have five American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) first-team All-Central region selections: sophomore setter Marilee Fisher and sophomore libero Kelly Pang, freshman outside hitter Meghan Byrne, junior middle hitter Lauren Budde and
sophomore outside hitter Drew Hargrave.

Leading the way for the Violets and first-year coach Chris Pinto are Mina Baban and Kendyl Dunn, who earned Regional All-Tournament Team honors, and Regional Most Outstanding Player Erin McLaughlin.

NYU is a strong team with several experienced players,” Luenemann said. We need to serve and pass well against them. The offensive and defensive aspects of volleyball have evolved immensely in the last decade, yet the essence of the game is still serving and

No. 12 University of St. Thomas vs. No. 3 Juniata College (12:30 p.m.): St. Thomas advanced to the national quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-0 victory over St. Olaf College on Sunday. The Tommies were an at-large selection to the 2010 tournament field out of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and are 31-6 overall. St. Thomas is coached by Thanh Pham.

Juniata College has won two national titles and was the national runner-up in 2009. The Eagles (33-5) defeated Frostburg State University, 3-0, to win the Middle Atlantic regional. Juniata won the Landmark Conferences automatic bid to the NCAA

No. 10 Calvin College vs. No. 24 Massachusetts-Boston (3 p.m.): Calvin College (29-4) returns to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1992, which was also the last time the event was held at Washington University. The Knights upset No. 2 Wittenberg University, 3-1, to capture the regional championship and become an at-large selection from the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).

Massachusetts-Boston joins St. Thomas as a first-time competitor in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Beacons defeated Springfield College, 3-2, in Sundays regional final. Massachusetts-Boston won the Little East Conference in 2010 and boasts a 30-4 overall record.

No. 1 Emory vs. No. 5 Christopher Newport, (5:30 p.m.): UAA winner Emory University returns to the championship after a one-year absence. The Eagles (33-4) won their first national championship in 2008, and defeated Cal Lutheran in five sets on
Sunday to earn another trip to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Christopher Newport survived a five-set thriller against Randolph-Macon to capture its second consecutive regional title. The Captains (38-2), who won the USA South Athletic Conference, made their first appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2009.