MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State Women's Volleyball team made history on Sunday, winning the program's first North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Championship, to receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The NEAC Champions will face off with the Golden Knights from Clarkson University in the opening round on Friday, November 10 at 8 PM. The Golden Knights were one of eight institutions selected by the NCAA to host a regional tournament.
This match also marks the first meeting between the two New York institutions. The Mustangs enter the contest with a 24-6 overall record, while the Golden Knights enter the contest with a 21-7 overall record. Both teams posted only one loss in conference competition.
Morrisville will rely heavily on their balanced offensive attack that features five players with 100+ kills on the season. NEAC Tournament MVP, Megyan Merrill (Millport, N.Y.) leads the way for the Mustangs with 349 kills. Merrill's 3.67 kills per set was tops in the NEAC.
Helena Hanes (Brockport, Pa.) provides the Mustangs with a duel threat attack, serving as an outside hitter for part of the team's rotation and a setter for the other half. Hanes tallied 229 kills, while notching 399 assists. Kim Dunkleman (Williamsville, N.Y.) the team's other setter, racked up 502 assists including six straight in the fourth set of the NEAC title game against Gallaudet University.
The Mustangs have served hard all season, tallying 219 aces. Six players have recorded over 20 aces this season. Dunkleman leads the way with 50, Merrill has recorded 38, while Morgan Florio (Wellsboro, Pa.), Sam Wolf (Liverpool, N.Y.), Amelia Baratier (Liverpool, N.Y.), and Hanes each recorded 20+.
Defensively Morrisville has proved to be stingy at the net, tallying 158 total blocks, 45 of which are solo blocks. Kirsten Florio (Wellsboro, Pa.) leads the team in blocks per set as the Mustangs are ranked 22nd in the country in opponent hitting percentage at .106. Wolf, the Mustangs' sophomore libero leads the team with 525 digs.
On the other side of the net, the Liberty League Champions are led by Rachael Aird, the senior Liberty League Tournament MVP who has posted 307 kills. Along with Aird, the Golden Knights have received big contributions from sophomores Kate Isaksen and Rachel Reusch. Isaksen received Liberty League First-Team honors at libero, while Reusch was named to the second-team as a middle hitter.
The winner of this opening round game will move on to face the winner of Babson College against Vassar College. Babson ended the season at 20-9. Members of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, the Beavers received an at-large bid into the tournament despite falling in their conference semi-final to Wellesley.
Vassar, who ended the season with a record of 22-7 also received an at-large bid into the tournament. The Brewers also fell in the semi-final round of their conference tournament, falling to regional host, Clarkson.
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.