Athletics

Jeffs Heading to Springfield for NCAA Regional Championship

NCAA

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College volleyball team will head to Springfield College this weekend for the 2010 NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Regional Championship. The Lord Jeffs, who have been awarded the top seed in the New England region, will begin their run at a national title when they take on Lesley University Friday, Nov. 12, at 5:30 p.m.

Prior to top-seeded Amherst (24-3) playing eighth-seeded Lesley (19-9), No. 3 Middlebury (24-5) will take on No. 6 NYU-Polytechnic (20-19) at 12:30 p.m. and No. 2 UMass Boston (27-4) will challenge No. 7 Maine Maritime (18-9) at 3 p.m. After the Amherst-Lesley match, fifth-seeded Springfield (29-4) will host No. 4 Tufts (22-10) at 8 p.m.

The regional winner will advance to the national quarterfinals at the Washington University Field House in St. Louis. The final three rounds of the NCAA Tournament will take place Friday-Sunday, Nov. 19-21.

Tickets for this weekend’s matches will be $6 for adults, $4 for students and seniors (65+), and $3 for children (2-12). Children under 2 will be admitted free of charge. Doors to Blake Arena will open one hour before the start of the event each day.

Links for live video will be available free of charge as the event approaches. Live statistics will also be available for each match.

This is the sixth NCAA Tournament appearance for head coach Sue Everden and her Lord Jeffs. Amherst failed to advance past the second round in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2006, but the program reached the next level in 2007 when the Jeffs won their regional championship with wins over Rivier, Williams and MIT. Amherst’s run ended in the quarterfinals with a 3-0 loss to national powerhouse Juniata, but a NESCAC team has returned to the quarterfinal round each year since then.

Another win for Amherst would guarantee Coach Everden the highest single-season winning percentage of her 25-year career, as the Jeffs are challenging the .857 mark from 2007 (30-5). A loss on Friday would leave the Jeffs tied with that .857 winning percentage, but picking up at least one victory this weekend will secure a new record.

Team
Amherst is making its sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Throughout the year the Jeffs have been led by their outstanding senior class. Jackie Berkley ’11 and Laura Hyman ’11 are two of the NESCAC’s best middle hitters, with Berkley leading the conference in hitting percentage (.355) and Hyman close behind in second (.351). Hyman also leads the NESCAC in blocks per set (1.01), while Berkley ranks sixth (0.84).

Defensive specialists Rachel Yorke ’11 and Erin Camp ’11 have the Jeffs leading all of Division III in digs per set (22.8). Yorke is among the nation’s leaders in digs, with her impressive 7.1 average ranking far ahead of the NESCAC’s second highest mark (6.1). Camp is in the midst of her best season and is currently 13th in the conference with 3.46 digs per set. Also contributing to the outstanding defense have been Kristin Keeno ’13 and Devin Pence ’14, who each average more than two and a half digs per set.

Callie Neilson ’13 has emerged as one of the NESCAC’s best setters during what has been a breakout sophomore season. Her 11.47 assists per set are the most in the conference and rank among the top 10 in Division III. Neilson’s prime targets have been outside hitters Cristy Meier ’12 (3.44 kills per set) and Katherine Kanoff ’12 (2.80), who have helped the Jeffs rank second in the NESCAC in both kills and hitting percentage.

Countering the veteran Amherst team will be a young Lesley squad that features only one senior. The Lynx are making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance thanks to a 3-2 win over Daniel Webster in the New England Collegiate Conference Championship. That upset win avenged the 3-0 loss Lesley suffered to Daniel Webster on Oct. 23 and improved the Lynx to 5-0 in matches that have been decided in five sets.

Lesley has been led by NECC Player of the Year and three-time NECC Player of the Week Amanda McCracken ’13. The 5’11 middle hitter is among the Division III leaders in kills per set (4.39) and hitting percentage (.419), also leading her team in blocks per set (0.93).

For Amherst, a win against Lesley would set up a second-round showdown with either Tufts or Springfield. The Jeffs earned a pair of 3-1 wins over the Jumbos on neutral territory during the regular season before suffering a 3-0 loss in the NESCAC finals. The only other team in the New England bracket Amherst has already faced is Middlebury, which shut out the Jeffs on Sept. 17 and went on to win the conference title.

NCAA Division III Volleyball Regional Championship
Friday, Nov. 12
12:30 p.m. -- No. 3 Middlebury vs. No. 6 NYU-Polytechnic
3 p.m. -- No. 2 UMass Boston vs. No. 7 Maine Maritime
5:30 p.m. -- No. 1 Amherst vs. No. 8 Lesley
8 p.m. -- No. 4 Tufts vs. No. 5 Springfield

Saturday, Nov. 13
3:30 p.m. -- Match 5 - Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2
6 p.m. -- Match 6 - Winner of Match 3 vs. Winner of Match 4

Sunday, Nov. 14
4 p.m. -- Match 7 - Winner of Match 5 vs. Winner of Match 6

FULL NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET