TIGERS TRIUMPH - Wittenberg Sweeps Christopher Newport to Win National Title
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St. Louis, Mo., November 20, 2011 – Wittenberg University earned its fifth sweep in six NCAA Tournament matches to win the program's first NCAA Division III Volleyball National Championship with a 25-21, 25-21, 28-26 win over Christopher Newport University on Sunday evening at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo.
Christopher Newport opened the first set fired up, grabbing a 3-1 lead early. Wittenberg battled back, tying the score at 4-4 on a kill by senior outside hitter Kimmie Dyer. Dyer followed with an ace serve to give the Tigers their first lead. Later in the set, Dyer gave Wittenberg a 12-9 lead with another kill. Trailing 13-11, Christopher Newport scored four straight points to take a 15-13 lead. The score was tied again at 18-18 before a 5-0 run by Wittenberg opened up a 23-18 lead for the Tigers. The Captains cut into the lead with back-to-back points, but a kill through the block by Dyer gave Wittenberg the 25-21 win in the first set.
Wittenberg jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second set after a kill by senior middle hitter Katie Sumner. The Captains got three-straight kills by junior middle blocker Bailey Jensen, senior middle blocker Chelsea McClure and junior outside hitter Cory Harris to get to within 7-5. Wittenberg regained a five-point lead at 12-7 after another kill by Dyer. After a timeout by Christopher Newport head coach Lindsay Birch, the Captains scored three points to get back to within two at 12-10, but Wittenberg extended its lead to six at 19-13 after a block by Sumner and senior right-side hitter Christine Simpson. The Captains refused to give up, scoring five-straight points to get to within 19-18, but Wittenberg answered with five unanswered points to make it 24-18. Christopher Newport fought off three set-point opportunities by the Tigers with kills by sophomore middle blocker Chastity Lacy and junior right-side hitter Christie Fellows and a setting error by Wittenberg. A kill by Simpson ended the set 25-21 and gave Wittenberg the 2-0 lead in the match.
The teams played within three points of each other to open the third set, including four lead changes, until a kill by Fellows gave Christopher Newport a 21-17 lead. The Tigers rallied to get to within 22-20 on a kill by Simpson. A kill by Fellows and a setting error by Wittenberg gave the Captains a 24-20 lead. Wittenberg fought off four-straight set-point opportunities, including back-to-back kills by senior Catherine Farny to tie the score at 24-24. A kill by Dyer gave Wittenberg a 25-24 lead, but the Captains answered with a kill by Jensen. A serving error by Christopher Newport gave Wittenberg another match-point opportunity, but Jensen got another kill to tie the score again at 26-26. Kills by Dyer and Simpson gave the Tigers the 28-26 win and their first national title.
Simpson led Wittenberg’s attack with 13 kills, while hitting at a .565 clip (13-0-23). Dyer, who was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, added 12 kills and 11 digs for the Tigers. Junior setter Hallie Donathan tallied 22 assists, while freshman setter Meghan Vodopich added 20. Junior libero Christina Gilene had a match-high 21 digs, and senior outside hitter Hannah Riley finished with 18 digs.
Fellows led Christopher Newport with 10 kills on 23 attacks, while Harris added eight kills and 10 digs. Jensen notched six kills and six blocks in the match. Senior setter Jessie Heavenrich had 34 assists and 14 digs for the Captains. Junior libero Abby Hogge had a team-high 19 digs.
Wittenberg ended the season at 37-3 overall, winning its final 12 matches. Christopher Newport concludes its season with a 38-5 record, and had its 15-match win streak ended in the championship match.
NOTES: This is Wittenberg’s fifth National Championship in any sport, and first ever by a women’s program … The Tigers’ last National Championship was in 1977 by men’s basketball … The final five matches of the 2011 NCAA Championship were sweeps … The Tigers won 33 of their 37 matches in 2011 by a 3-0 margin … Wittenberg became just the ninth school to win the NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball National Championship … Joining Dyer on the All-Tournament team were Gilene and Simpson from Wittenberg, Hogge and Jensen from Christopher Newport, Cindy Cavanagh from Carthage College, and Courtney Reinhold from Eastern University.