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Meet Your 2015 D3 Volleyball National Quarterfinalists

Updated on November 15, 2015

Who Wins the 2015 D3 Volleyball Championship?

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The NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship kicked off on the second weekend of November. For those who need a little background, the Championship takes the sixty-four teams from across the country who qualify by either winning their conference (44) or by earning an at-large bid (20).

In the opening three rounds, played on the first weekend from either Thursday to Saturday, or Friday to Sunday, teams are sent to one of eight regional sites. This year, those sites were at Cal Lutheran, Wis.-Whitewater, Berry (Ga.), Stockton (NJ), MIT, Clarkson (NY), Juniata (Pa.), and Calvin (Mich.).

Here are the teams who advanced, how they got there, and likely chances to take home the title.

Source

Carlee Hoppe

Bethel (Minn.)

The Royals (25-9) start the list emerging from the Wis.-Whitewater Regional.

How They Got There:

Bethel received an at-large bid to the tournament after being ranked fifth in the Central Regional Rankings. They then kicked things off with a bang when they knocked off 2014 defending National Champion and tenth ranked Hope (24-7) in straight sets. They followed that up with a 3-1 win over Wis.-Eau Claire (27-10) and won the Regional with a 3-2 decision over in-state rival Northwestern (28-9).

Top Players:

Two players from Bethel were named AVCA All-Region last week. Carlee Hoppe is a junior from Shakopee, MN and leads Bethel with 390 kills (3.31/set) and 30 aces on the year. Joining Hoppe on the All-Region team is fellow junior Tegan LeBerge (Maple Grove, MN). LeBerge is second on the team with 340 kills and leads them with 159 blocks on the year (1.34/set).

On the Sideline:

Gretchen Hunt has been at Bethel for fifteen seasons, making ten appearance in the MIAC playoffs. This is her squad's fourth appearance in the NCAA's and she carries and overall record of 271-195 (.582) into the Elite 8.

Road to the Title:

Playing fellow surprise Elite-Eighter Hendrix in the Quarterfinal with a likely matchup against Cal Lu in the semifinal for the winner. The MIAC is a tough conference, but this Cinderella may not last long at the ball.

MC Rogers

Sara Dyslin

Hendrix

Next up, the Hendrix Warriors (28-8) from the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) and emerging from the Berry Regional.

How They Got There:

Hendrix won the SAA's automatic bid to the tournament by downing fellow NCAA participant Birmingham-Southern in four sets. They took down Covenant (19-13) of the USA South in the opening round of the regional in straight sets. Regional-Host Berry (25-6) was their next victim in five set come-from-behind win. Last up, #2 Nationally ranked Emory (35-3). Another five set thriller, 15-13 sent them on their way to Michigan.

Top Players:

Mary Caroline (MC) Rogers was Hendrix's only representative on the All-Region team and she was Honorable Mention at that. A 6'2" junior from Collierville, TN, she led the Warriors in kills on the season with 367 and in receive attempts (692).

Sophomore Sara Dysliin (San Jose, CA) was named Regional Outstanding Player this past weekend. Dyslin is third on the team in kills (277) and first in blocks (150).

On the Sideline:

Ryan Meek is in his fifth season at Hendrix, having turned the program around. This is his second trip to the NCAA's, making to the second round last season. Meek has a 109-63 (.634) record in his five seasons and has to be considered a rising star after his team's performance this year.

Road to the Title:

As noted above, Hendrix does battle with Bethel in the quarters. But if you can beat an Emory, you can beat anyone. They've got a shot.

Torchie, Carthage's Mascot

Karen Chin

Emily Heuermann

Carthage

Carthage (34-7) is our third team into the Elite 8, from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) and Calvin Regional.

How They Got There:

Carthage swept their way to the CCIW Title over #24 Ill. Wesleyan and #17 Elmhurst. In the Calvin Regional, they took down Wis.-LaCrosse (20-10) in straight sets before dropping Ill. Wesleyan (23-10) in five. In the Regional Final, they stopped #4 ranked Calvin (30-4) on their home floor, 3-1.

Top Players:

Carthage was well-represented on the AVCA All-Region team, with four players being honored. On the first team were setter Karen Chin, a senior from Mundelein, Ill. and senior Emily Heuermann (Washington, Ill.). Making Honorable Mention were juniors Stephanie Korbakes (Palos Heights, Ill.) and Stefanie Romanowski (Kenosha, WI).

Chin was the leading setter on the squad with 1511 assists (10.21/set) while Korbakes and Heuermann lead the offense (388 and 479 kills respectively). Romanowski is the top blocker with 156 blocks (1.19/set).

On the Sideline:

Leanne Ulmer directs the Carthage squad for her 14th year. Her 444-125 (.780) record stands as one of the ten best in Division III. This is her tenth appearance in the NCAA's.

Road to the Title:

A quarterfinal matchup with Randolph-Macon, then likely Wittenberg. A very battle-tested team loaded with upperclass talent. They already played at the venue and if they can beat Calvin, they have to be considered one of the favorites. They'll have three challenging matches to win the title, so if they do it, it will be well-earned.

Golden Knights

Aishvina Arasu

Kirstie Shurie

Clarkson

For the fourth straight year, Clarkson (30-8) of the Liberty League earns a regional championship, coming from their own (Clarkson) regional.

How They Got There:

Clarkson went undefeated in the Liberty League and the NY Region, pulling in a top regional seed for the NCAA's. They took down Colby-Sawyer (12-25), 3-0 before topping Ithaca (31-5), 3-1. In the Regional Final, they swept Springfield College (31-4).

Top Players:

Clarkson had two players on the AVCA New York All-Region First Team. Seniors Aishvina Arasu (Brea, CA) and Kirstie Shurie (LaCanada, CA) both headline the honorees. Arasu leads the Golden Knights in kills (438) and Shurie is the team leading in setting at 12.80 assists per set.

Clarkson also had two player earn Honorable Mention All-Region in senior Victoria Kirkemo (Englewood, CO) and sophomore Rachael Aird (East Syracuse, NY). Kirkemo and Aird are second and third on the team in kills per set at 2.80 and 2.17 respectively.

On the Sideline:

Johan Dulfer is in his tenth year at Clarkson. In that time, he has seven NCAA appearances, and now four Regional Championships. He owns a 270-114 (.703) record during that time.

Road to the Title:

Clarkson draws one of the storied programs in NCAA D3 Volleyball in Wittenberg. Experience should help them, but that's a tough matchup to get through and they certainly won't be favored to advance.

Da Bears

Christy Jewett

Bowdoin

Earning the MIT Regional berth into the Elite 8 is Bowdoin (26-4) of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

How They Got There:

Bowdoin took down Williams in five sets to win the NESCAC Title, then opened up regional play with a sweep of UMass-Boston (12-16). Matching 3-1 wins over NEWMAC teams Babson (28-9) and MIT (30-4) gave them the trip to Michigan.

Top Players:

Bowdoin put three players on the NorthEast All-Region squad. Senior Christy Jewett (Sunnyvale, CA) joins juniors Katie Doherty Menlo Park, CA) and Quincy Leech (Durham, NC) as honorees.

Leech is the leading setter on the squad (9.57 assists/set), Jewett is the top attacker with 429 kills (4.09/set) and Doherty is the team's top defender and server with 571 digs (5.95/set) and 51 aces.

On the Sideline:

Not a bad way to start your time at a new university for Erin Cady. This is her first season at the helm of the program after being the Head Coach at Holy Cross for the four seasons prior to Bowdoin.

Road to the Title:

Bowdoin draws 2014 National Finalist, Cal Lutheran. With a few players on the roster from California, this might seem like a homecoming. But I doubt the Regals will make anyone feel welcome and they will be favored in the contest.


Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets

Courtney Lowers

Randolph-Macon

Advancing from the Stockton Regional are the Yellow Jackets of Randolph-Macon (28-7), a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC).

How They Got There:

R-MC won the ODAC automatic bid in grand style, dropping only one set in three rounds. In the Regional, they took down Stevenson (28-8), 3-1 and then perennial powerhouse Christopher Newport (30-3) in five. The cruised to the title with a 3-0 of Stockton (32-5).

Top Players:

The Yellow Jackets had two representative to the AVCA South All-Region Team. Senior Courtney Lowers (Suffolk, VA) was on the first-team and sophomore Samantha Sallade (Newport News, VA) was honorable mention.

On the Sideline:

Bill Rogers is in his fourteenth season directing the R-MC program. Rogers has a career record at the school of 325-129 (.716) and this is the program's fourth NCAA Appearance under his tenure.

Road to the Title:

They draw Carthage in the quarterfinal round, with a date likely with Wittenberg to follow. It's one of the toughest paths to the title, but topping Christopher Newport let everyone know that they're for real.


The Tigers

Kara Seidenstricker

Paco Labrador

Wittenberg

Wittenberg (27-2) of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) survives the Juniata Regional and advances to another Elite 8.

How They Got There:

Wittenberg took down Allegheny, Hiram, and DePauw to win the A.Q. from their conference. In the Regional, they defeated Bluffton (19-13), 3-1 and then Heidelberg (27-6), 3-0. In the final, they took down National Third-Ranked Juniata (33-3), 3-1.

Top Players:

In what seemed like a misprint, Wittenberg only had one player on the AVCA All-Region Team. Senior Kara Seidenstricker (London, OH) was the team's lone honoree. SeidenStricker leads the Tigers in Kills and Aces, while also being second in digs.

On the Sideline:

One of the top coaches in all of the NCAA, Paco Labrador is in his thirteenth season at Witt. His 404-61 record stands as the best in Division III and second best across all divisions. This is his thirteenth NCAA Appearance and his squad claimed the 2011 Title.

Road to the Title:

A winnable quarterfinal against Clarkson sets up a tricky matchup with either Carthage or Randolph-Macon. Talented teams in Cal Lu and Hendrix are waiting on the other side of the bracket should make the title game. The highest ranked team in the tournament at sixth nationally, with one of the most experience and successful coaches left in the tournament, you've got to like their chances.

Cal Lu

Michelle Lawrence

Sarah Pappas

Cal Lutheran

The final entrant into the Elite 8 is Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (SCIAC) Cal Lutheran (27-5). They took their own Regional Championship late Sunday night, Eastern Standard Time.

How They Got There:

Cal Lu got an At-Large bid to the NCAA's after dropping the SCIAC's Final to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. In the bracket of death that was their regional, they topped eighth-ranked Colorado College (34-4) in straight sets before knocking off Texas-Dallas.(31-3). Things didn't get any easier with top-ranked Washington University (34-2) of the UAA, but they prevailed 3-1 to punch their second straight ticket to the Elite 8.

Top Players:

Cal Lu got two juniors on the AVCA West All-Region Team. Michelle Lawrence (Walnut Creek, CA) and Sarah Pappas (Reno, NV) were the teams representatives on the first team.Senior Allie Eason (Oxnard, CA) also garnered Honorable Mention.

Lawrence, Pappas, and Eason were the top three attackers on the squad this year with 3.95, 2.52, and 2.69 kills per set respectively.

On the Sideline:

Kellee Roesel entered her tenth year helming the program in 2015. This will be her program's eighth straight NCAA Appearance and they are coming off a close loss in last year's Final. Roesel's 261-59 (.816) is one of the highest winning percentage's in the country.

Road to the Title:

A winnable matchup with Bowdoin will be followed by a tougher than expected match with the Bethel (MN) and Hendrix winner. Waiting on the other side of the bracket will likely be a very tough opponent in either Wittenberg, Carthage, or Randolph-Macon. But with the experience and talent they have, plus the schedule they made it through, this team seems primed to take it all.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great sports commentary.

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