MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State Women's Volleyball team made history on Sunday afternoon, winning the program's first ever North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Championship defeating the Bison from Gallaudet University 3-1.
The Mustangs roared out to an early 11-6 lead in set one over the seven-time defending champions behind the strong serving of Christina Grippin (Berne, N.Y.). After a Bison timeout, the Mustangs continued to push points capped off by a huge kill by Helena Hanes (Brockport, Pa.) to put Morrisville up 16-13.
After Gallaudet took their second timeout of the first set, the rotation came back to Grippin's serve, who along with a strong offensive performance by Megyan Merrill (Millport, N.Y.) brought the Mustangs home for a 25-18 first set win. Merrill finished with 8 kills in the first set to go along with Grippin's two aces.
Gallaudet would not let up, and quickly put the pressure back on the Mustangs, going up 13-8 in the second set. Morrisville took a time out and got back to within three thanks in part to a big solo block by Kirsten Florio (Wellsboro, Pa.). However, every time Morrisville inched closer, Gallaudet would find a way to pull away. The Bison topped the Mustangs 25-18 in the second set to even up the match at 1-1.
Morrisville got themselves back on track early in the third set as they pushed points behind the strong serving of Kim Dunkleman (Williamsville, N.Y.), Amelia Baratier (Liverpool, N.Y.), and Merrill. Each of them picked up an ace as they built a commanding 18-11 lead. The Mustangs closed out the third set 25-15 to bring themselves one set closer to making program history.
Despite going back and forth early in the fourth, a string of unforced errors put the Mustangs down 12-6. Coach Fred Wallace called a critical timeout, putting Morrisville back on track as they slowly gained ground. Grippin went on another strong serve run to pull the Mustangs within two points at 14-16. Gritty defense and a momentum changing block assist by Lindsey Sunderlage (Kingston, Ill.) and Dunkleman knotted the score at 16-16.
Gallaudet refused to give the Mustangs any ground as the two matched each other blow for blow. Knotted at 20 all, Hanes broke the tie with a kill to put Morrisville up 21-20. From that point forward, Morrisville did not look back and were able to dog-pile after Merrill picked up the match point on a cross court kill.
The total team effort saw three Mustangs collect double-digit kills, two pick up double-digit assist totals, and three pick up double digit digs in addition to seven aces. Merrill, who was named the NEAC Tournament MVP, tallied 24 kills, and a team high 22 digs.
Hanes and Crittenden each finished with 10 kills. Hanes and Dunkleman finished with 25 and 21 assists respectively, while Sam Wolf (Liverpool, N.Y.) and Baratier ended with 19 and 12 digs.
With the win, the Mustangs receive the NEAC's automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Division III National Tournament. Morrisville will find out their regional location and opponents at 12:30 PM on Monday afternoon. The selection show will be shown live on NCAA.com.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.