The Tigers traveled to Juniata this weekend for the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament and left with a Regional Championship-leaving them just 12 sets away from the university’s second National Championship.
The weekend began with a 3-1 victory over Bluffton. The Tigers were able to bounce back from an opening set loss to win three straight sets for the victory. Senior Kara Seidenstricker took her usual perch on top of the box score with 12 kills in Friday’s afternoon match. Senior libero Kristina Fultz lead the defensive effort with 16 digs.
There was no drama in Saturday’s match as the Tigers swept Heidelberg 3-0. Senior Melissa Emming lead the Tigers with 13 kills on the day.
The Tigers then found themselves in familiar spot. The Tigers have reached the round of 16 each of the last six seasons, but coming into Sunday they were an even 6-6 in the regional finals all time.
Seidenstricker added another 12 kills en route to 3-1 victory for the Tigers. The Tigers were able to avenge their September loss to the Eagles – who were ranked #1 in the Mid-Atlantic region. Sunday’s loss was only the third for Juniata on the year.
The Tigers now have date with eighteenth ranked Clarkson Golden Knights who won their fourth straight regional title. After the weekend the Knights sit at 30-8 for the season. The Tigers did not play Clarkson in the regular season but they teams did share three common opponents – Hope, Calvin and Juniata. The Tigers are 2-2 on the year against that trio, while Clarkson was 0-3 against those national powerhouses.
The Tigers were ranked fifth in the November 10 AVA coaches rankings, and now sit as the highest ranked team still alive in the NCAA tournament – after a weekend full of upsets in regional play.
The top four teams in the Coaches rankings had a combined 10 losses in the regular season but all were eliminated this weekend.