BUFFALO, N.Y. – Seventeenth-ranked Cortland won its third consecutive SUNYAC title and 19th overall with a three-set victory at Buffalo State in the conference championship match. The Red Dragons (33-5) defeated the Bengals by scores of 26-24, 25-20 and 25-21 and earn an automatic berth into the Division III tournament.

Cortland will be making its 24th NCAA tournament appearance and sixth in the last eight seasons. The tournament field will be announced on Monday and regionals will be held Nov. 9-11 at eight campus locations nationally.

Senior middle hitter Natalie Zacpal was named the SUNYAC Tournament Most Valuable Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by junior middle hitter Ava Hintz and junior libero Krissy Silk. Zacpal totaled seven kills and two blocks in the championship match and 13 kills and seven blocks total in two matches. Hintz finished with seven kills and four blocks in the finals and Silk matched her career high with 30 digs.

Senior Ashley Coyle registered a match-high 13 kills and added eight digs. Senior Kristen Guercio finished with 34 assists and 10 digs, junior Aubrey Barrett had seven kills, four blocks and eight digs and freshman Kim Givelechian added 14 digs and four kills.

Buffalo State (26-8) was making its second SUNYAC championship match appearance and first since 1997. Sherrell McLean led the Bengals with nine kills and Sam Parente had eight kills and five blocks. Kayla Pyc led the team with six blocks, Kelsey Bashore totaled 22 assists and 11 digs and Chelsea Moore led the team with 29 digs.

In a back-and-forth first set, Cortland used an 8-2 run to take a 13-9 lead, but Buffalo State later went on a 5-0 run to go up 19-17. The Red Dragons finished strong to pull out the two-point victory. The teams were tied at 15 in the second set before a decisive 5-1 run by the Red Dragons.

In the third set, the Bengals scored six consecutive points to take a 10-7 lead and still led by one 15-14 before Cortland tallied five consecutive points to take control.