Wittenberg Volleyball Sweeps Eastern to Advance to NCAA Division III National Championship Match
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St. Louis, Mo., November 19, 2011 — Wittenberg University swept Eastern University 25-21, 25-13, 25-19 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship at the WU Field House in St. Louis, to advance to its first-ever national championship match.
The Tigers, who improved their overall record to 36-3, advance to the national championship match on Sunday to take on Christopher Newport University. The match is slated for 5 p.m. (CT) in St. Louis.
"This is a great feeling for all of us in the program and a wonderful day for this university," said Wittenberg head coach Paco Labrador, who has a 295-41 overall record in nine seasons. "To be one match away from a national championship is a great reward for a lot of hard work."
Senior Kimmie Dyer led the Wittenberg attack with 11 kills and 10 digs, while senior Katie Sumner added eight kills and hit .727 (8-0-11). The Tigers hit .327 (46-11-107) as a team and had 10 block assists.
An evenly played first set saw the match tied at 16-16 following a kill from Eastern senior Courtney Reinhold. From there it was all Wittenberg as they ended the set on a 9-5 run to claim the first set. The Tigers hit .205 (15-6-44) in the opening set.
Wittenberg made quick work of Eastern in set two following a .480 (15-3-25) hitting performance. The Tigers led from start to finish in the second set, and built a 6-2 lead following a kill by Sumner. A timeout by Eastern could not stop the Tiger attack, as they stretch the lead to 8-2 after an attack error by Eastern. The Eagles closed the gap to 12-9, but after a timeout by Labrador, Wittenberg ended the set on a 13-4 run.
An 8-3 surge out of the game by Wittenberg in set three forced a timeout by Eastern head coach Mark Birwistle. Back-to-back kills from senior Christine Simpson and Miranda Sagle gave the Tigers a seven-point lead (10-3), but Eastern closed the gap with a 13-6 run to make it 16-13. That would be a close as Eastern would get, as a kill by Dyer sent Wittenberg to the school’s first national tournament final in any sport since the men’s basketball second-place finish in 2006.
Reinhold had a match-high 12 kills for Eastern, which closed out its season with a 36-3 record and its first-ever national semifinal appearance.