Trojan Volleyball Set for Fifth NCAA Tournament Appearance

Trojan Volleyball Set for Fifth NCAA Tournament Appearance

ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University volleyball team is set for its second straight and fifth overall appearance in the NCAA Southeast Region Tournament, as the Trojans are slated to open the three-day event against fifth-seeded Lander, Thursday afternoon.

The regional is being hosted at Wingate's Cuddy Arena, with first-serve between the Trojans and Bearcats set for 5 p.m.

Ticket prices per day
Adults - $8
Students - $3
Children - $2

The Trojans
Anderson (27-5) enters the NCAA Tournament as the No. 4 seed for the second consecutive year after posting the second-most wins in a single season in program history and saw an unparalleled five players earn All-South Atlantic Conference honors at the conclusion of the regular season.

Thursday's contest will mark the fifth overall appearance by Anderson in the NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship, and the Trojans' second in as many seasons. AU blanked fifth-seeded Queens, 3-0, in last year's NCAA quarterfinals and nearly advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history before falling in five sets to top-seeded and eventual regional champion Flagler.

In addition to last season, AU also earned berths in the 2008, 2013 and 2014 NCAA Southeast Region Championships and owns a 2-4 overall record in its four appearances.

The Trojans earned their first-ever bid after winning the 2008 Conference Carolinas Tournament and were swept by Wingate in the region quarterfinals. AU received an at-large bid to the 2013 regional and the No. 5 seeded Trojans promptly upset fourth-seeded Tusculum in the quarterfinals for AU's first-ever win in the NCAA Tournament. Top-seeded Wingate ended AU's run in the second round. The Trojans entered the 2014 Southeast Regional as the No. 5 seed and dropped a five-set decision to Augusta in the opening round.

Behind their five All-SAC selections, the Trojans lead the SAC in total kills and rank second in kills per set, hitting percentage, assists, assists per set and aces, while standing third in the league in digs. AU is 15th nationally in digs, 16th in digs per set and 25th in opponent's hitting percentage.

Junior setter Emily Conlin garnered First-Team All-SAC honors for the second straight year and is 17th in the nation with 11.42 digs per set. She ranks 19th nationally in total assists. The Glendale, Ariz., native is 10th in the country with 55 aces on the season. She was named SAC Specialist of the Week four times during the regular season and currently paces the league in both assists and aces. Conlin has notched 21 double-doubles this season, including nine straight, while reaching 40+ assists on 16 occasions and 50+ assists in six matches this season. She was named to the SAC All-Tournament Team last weekend and ranks third all-time in the school record books in total assists.

Sophomore Hailee Wilhelm is second on the squad with a career-high 296 kills and has averaged nearly 15 kills per match over the last eight matches. She earned First-Team All-Conference recognition, while reaching double-figure kills in 15 matches. She is third in the SAC with a .313 hitting percentage and eighth in total kills.

Senior Jayln Knight captured Second-Team All-SAC accolades and leads AU with 299 kills. The Redlands, Calif., native is third on the squad with 416 digs and is one of only four players in the league with at last 200 kills and 400 digs on the year. She has reached double-digit kills on 16 occasions and posted double-figure digs 24 times, while notched 15 double-doubles this season. The versatile outside hitter has averaged nearly 12 kills and nearly 18 digs over the last seven outings.

Sophomore Regan Duty, who garnered Honorable Mention All-Conference accolades, is third on the Trojan squad with 240 kills and ranks 19th in the league in kills and stands 18th in kills per set. A native of Inman, S.C., Duty knocked down double-figure kills in a dozen matches, including four of the last seven outings.

Liliana Kinder has knocked down nearly 200 kills during her first season with the Black and Gold and has averaged nearly 12 kills per match over the last eighth outings. The native of Ponte Vedra, Fla., earned a spot on the SAC All-Freshman Team, becoming just the second Trojan to claim a spot on the squad since AU joined the league in 2010 - Conlin was named Freshman of the Year in 2016.

#1 Wingate
The 24th-ranked and host Bulldogs (29-1) earned the top seed after winning their 12th regular season SAC title in 13 years while also capturing their 11th conference tournament championship in 13 seasons.

The 'Dogs are making their 14th consecutive appearance and 15th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and they own a 19-14 record in the Southeast Regional, while winning region titles in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

As did the Trojans, Wingate had five players earn All-SAC honors. Rachel Alles was named SAC Player of the Year. Phoebe Havenaar earned all-conference and SAC Tournament MVP accolades, while seniors Hannah Givens, Anna Holmquist and Kori Adams also earned all-conference honors, with Adams and Alles joining Havenaar on the All-SAC Tournament Team.

The Series vs. the Bulldogs
After defeating the Bulldogs just once in the first 17 years of the program, the Trojans have knocked off the perennial regional powerhouse three times in their last five meetings, with all three victories coming at the Abney Center.

Last month's Homecoming win over the Bulldogs marked AU's second win in three meetings with Wingate and its fourth overall win in school history past the Bulldogs. The victory marked AU's third victory since 1999, when the Trojans were in their first year as a member of NCAA Division II. Wingate has won 21 of the last 24 matchups and leads the overall series, 21-4.

The Trojans snapped a 19-match skid at the hands of their SAC opponent when they stunned Wingate with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-8, 25-14) win at the Abney Center in mid-October of the 2016 campaign. At the time, the loss marked just the Bulldog's fourth SAC loss in three years. The Bulldogs avenged the loss by sweeping AU, 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-22) in their first meeting last season in the Tar Heel State.

History repeated itself on Homecoming Weekend a year ago, when the Trojans handed the 21st-ranked Bulldogs their first loss of the season at the Abney Center and again this past Homecoming, when AU knocked Wingate from the ranks of the unbeaten with a four-set win.

#2 USC Aiken
USC Aiken (21-4) grabbed the No. 2 seed after winning the Peach Belt regular-season title, while falling to Georgia College in four sets in the semifinals of
the Peach Belt Tournament. Thursday will mark the fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Southeast Regional for the Pacers.

Junior Christine Carroll was named the Co-PBC Player of the Year, alongside Georgia College's Taylor Svehla, and also earned First-Team All-PBC accolades. Rebecca Martinez garnered Libero of the Year and first-team all-league honors. Alie Smith captured Second-Team All-PBC accolades and head coach Glenn Cox was tabbed the PBC Coach of the Year.

The Series vs. the Pacers
The two teams met for the first time during the 2002 campaign, with USCA claiming a 3-0 win, then the series took a seven-year hiatus. USC Aiken leads the all-time series 5-1 and has won three straight past the Trojans, including a 3-1 decision in 2014 at the Convocation Center. The lone Trojan win was a 3-2 road victory during the 2010 season.

#3 Augusta
Augusta (24-7) claimed the No. 3 seed after winning the Peach Belt Conference Tournament title for the first time in school history and will be making its second appearance ever in the NCAA Tournament. The Jaguars have posted their fifth 20-win season in school history and the current 24-win total is the second-most wins in program history.

The Lady Jag's last appearance came in 2014 and was also hosted by Wingate. Augusta is 1-1 all time in the NCAA Regional and was seeded fourth in 2014 and advanced to the second round of action with a 3-2 win over Anderson, before falling in four sets to Wingate.

Senior McKenzey Beck earned First Team All-Peach Belt Conference honors, while sophomore Chloe Allen picked up second-team honors.

The Series vs. the Lady Jaguars
The Trojans are 6-5 versus the Lady Jags over the last nine seasons, with Augusta defeating AU in each of their last three meetings. AU opened the Queens Fall Classic earlier this season with a 3-0 loss to Augusta.

The fourth-seeded Lady Jags outlasted No. 5 seed Anderson, 3-2 (25-23, 27-25, 22-25, 15-13) in the 2014 NCAA Southeast Region Tournament, then swept AU at Christenberry Fieldhouse during the 2015 season.

Duty notched nine kills in the late August matchup, with Kinder chipping in four kills. Conlin dished out a match-high 30 assists and added eight digs, while Knight posted a team-high 15 digs. Freshman Meghan DeVaux notched 13 digs, with classmate Noelle Knutsen recording four block assists and a solo block on the afternoon.

#5 Lander
The Bearcats (22-7), who will be making their third appearance in four years in the regional, garnered the No. 5 seed after falling to eventual PBC tourney champion Augusta in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament.

Kaitlyn Krafka was named the Peach Belt Conference's Freshman of the Year, while Madilyn Reed earned Setter of the Year honors. Additionally, Krafka was named a first-team all-conference selection. The Bearcats placed Reed, Hannah Hritz and Hanna McManus on the all-conference second-team.

The Series vs. the Bearcats
The Trojans and Bearcats have only met six times since the 2009 season, with AU defeating Lander, 3-1 (26-24, 25-19, 22-25, 25-12) in last year's USC Aiken Invitational.

The Trojans have won three of the last four matchups with Lander – with two of the victories coming in the friendly confines of the Abney Athletic Center in 2010 and 2012. The Bearcats edged AU, 3-1, in the Electric City during the 2013 campaign.

#6 Georgia College
The Bobcats enter the NCAA Southeast Regional as the No. 6 seed for the second straight season after posting a 16-12 overall record this year and will open the tournament with a rematch of the Peach Belt (PBC) championship against Augusta.

The Bobcats knocked off Flagler in the first round of the PBC Tournament, then upset top-seeded USC Aiken in the semifinals before falling to Augusta in four sets in the championship. Sophomore Libby Bochniak and senior Kayla Brockway were each named to the All-PBC Second Team. GC also boasts PBC Co-Player of the Year senior Taylor Svehla.

Georgia College fell to second-seeded Wingate in last year's NCAA Tournament – the Bobcats' first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Series vs. the Bobcats
The Trojans are 2-0 in the brief overall series with Georgia College. AU blanked the Bobcats last season, 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-15), at the Centennial Center, then beat the Bobcats, 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 25-13) earlier this season at the Queens Fall Classic.

Knight recorded a double-double with 18 kills on the strength of an impressive .441 hitting percentage and added 14 digs. Duty posted 12 kills, while Conlin also captured a double-double with a match-high 49 assists and led all players with 20 digs. DeVaux tallied 19 digs, with Kinder notched nine kills and seven block assists.

#7 Lincoln Memorial
Seventh-seeded Lincoln Memorial (20-9) will face second-seeded USC Aiken in Thursday's second match. The Lady Railsplitters are making their seventh NCAA tournament appearance in program history and second in the past three years and are looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2008.

Lincoln Memorial finished third in the South Atlantic Conference standings and advanced to the SAC Championship tilt before falling to Wingate in four sets last Saturday.

Senior libero Erica Whiteaker, redshirt-senior Tone Gill and redshirt-junior Rylee Storms were named Second-Team All-South Atlantic Conference, while setter Emily Walter earned a spot on the SAC All-Freshman Team.

The Series vs. the Lady Railsplitters
The Trojans and Lady Railsplitters have met 25 times over the last 15 seasons, including 20 meetings since AU joined the South Atlantic Conference for the 2010 campaign.

LMU holds a 16-9 advantage in the overall series between the two schools, with Anderson snapping a nine-match skid at the hands of the Lady Railsplitters in the first meeting five seasons ago and defeating LMU three times during the 2014 campaign, including a 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-13) decision in the opening round of the SAC Championship.

After LMU swept the 2015 and 2016 matchups, the Trojans returned the favor by blanking the 'Splitters twice last season and defeating LMU, 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-21) earlier this season at the Abney Athletic Center and in five sets in Harrogate. The third-seeded Lady Railsplitters avenged the regular season losses by defeating No. 2 seed AU in last week's SAC Tournament in five sets.

In three matchups with Lincoln Memorial this season, Knight knocked down 44 kills (3.38/set) and came up with 43 digs, while Wilhelm added 37 kills and 11 total blocks. Duty posted 31 kills against the Lady Railsplitters this season, with Kinder tallying 30 kills. Conlin handed out 148 assists (11.38/set) and came up with 61 digs in the three meetings.

DeVaux also notched 61 digs, while Emily Conard and Megan Embry tallied 32 digs and 31 digs, respectively.

#8 Emmanuel
The Lions (23-8) claimed the Conference Carolinas automatic berth after winning the league tournament as well as the South Division of the conference in their first year of postseason eligibility. Emmanuel defeated Belmont Abbey, 3-1, last Sunday afternoon to claim the Conference Carolinas Championship.

Senior Julie de Blanck was named Conference Carolinas Offensive Player of the Year after leading the league in hitting percentage and blocks per set, while finishing third in the conference with 346 kills. Aysha Avery, a junior from Lawrenceville, Ga., earned Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Juniors Jessica Gray and Stephanie Hardy were both named to the All-Conference First Team, while Avery also earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team. Junior Mia McKensey and freshman Mia Cotton each earned spots on the All-Conference Third Team.

The Series vs. the Lions
The Trojans and Lions have squared off just twice in school history, with the overall series knotted at one win apiece. Emmanuel defeated the Trojans, 3-1, in the 2016 Francis Marion Invitational, while AU knocked off the Lions, 3-1 (25-15, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26) in Franklin Springs, Ga., in early September.

Wilhelm knocked down 13 kills on the strength of a .542 hitting percentage in the September matchup, while Duty chipped in a dozen kills. Knight nearly notched a double-double with nine kills and 16 digs, with Conlin tallying 49 assists, five service aces and 10 digs. DeVaux shared match-high honors with 23 digs.

NCAA SOUTHEAST REGION TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
at Wingate (Cuddy Arena)

Thursday, Nov. 15
Match 1: #3 Augusta vs. #6 Georgia College, Noon
Match 2: #2 USC Aiken vs. # 7 Lincoln Memorial, 2:30 p.m.
Match 3: #4 Anderson vs. #5 Lander, 5 p.m.
Match 4: #1 Wingate vs. #8 Emmanuel, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 16
Match 5: Winner match 1 vs. Winner match 2, 5 p.m.
Match 6: Winner match 3 vs. Winner match 4, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 17
Match 7: Winner match 5 vs. Winner match 6, 7 p.m.

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