The UMPI Volleyball team left Presque Isle Tuesday afternoon for their first ever Great South Athletic Conference (GSAC) Championship Tournament. The long ride to the campus of host Salem College in Winston-Salem North Carolina will be eased with the team knowing an NCAA National Championship Tournament bid is up for grabs.
"The volleyball team is a wildcard right now for this GSAC tourney. We have played amazingly well against tough teams like Maine Maritime and then not so amazingly against others. We have the athletic ability to play great, we just need to do it as a team and capitalize on other team's mistakes while minimizing ours. I am expecting to win...period," stated 2nd year Head Coach Mark Kornachuk
Coach Kornachuk's optimism is shared by the team. "I am really excited, this is our last volleyball trip, I love my teammates and really don't want this to end," said Senior Leslie Theriault.
The Blue & Gold draw #2 seed Agnes Scott College from Decatur, GA in the first round of the GSAC Tournament. The single elimination tournament starts on Friday, November 8 with games at noon, 2pm and the UMPI-Agnes Scott Match at 4pm. Top seed and host Salem College (8-15, 3-1 GSAC) receives a first round bye.
The Agnes Scott College Scotties are 8-17 overall (3-1 GSAC) and feature one of the finest middle hitters in the GSAC in Lauren Aikens, who has amassed 221 kills this season. Aikens, a NCAA Division II transfer from Valdosta State University is backed up by a fierce outside hitting duo of senior Morgan Bender and sophomore Natali Rendon, who have combined for 334 kills on the year.
The Owls season has been a roller coaster ride, typical of a program in the beginning stages of building a winning tradition. Among the highs have been outstanding play at home against a solid Maine Maritime squad that recently finished their regular season at 17-9 and fine play at fellow GSAC member Pine Manor.
"The ladies have had their fill of losses and I believe we need to step up and claim our wins. I look forward to my seniors stepping up their play and for new players to reach for more," noted Kornachuk. "This is the time we don't hold back and we go for all we can as a team. I look forward to this time that we have to show we are a very competitive team."