GAME PREVIEW: NCAA Volleyball - Regional Finals
TAMPA, Fla. – The #25 Florida Gulf Coast University volleyball team looks to continue its ascent among the Division II elite when it faces #6 Tampa in the NCAA Division II South Region Championship tonight at 7 p.m.
The Eagles won a thrilling, five-game match over #10 Florida Southern on Saturday night to advance into the regional final for the first time. FGCU rallied from a 2-1 deficit to upset FSC 26-30, 31-29, 26-30, 30-18, 15-12.
FGCU senior hitter Devon Watts had a team-high 21 kills on Saturday while junior all-region middle blocker Ericka Fonseca added 14 kills to go with seven blocks. Sophomore hitter Brooke Youngquist had 13 kills for FGCU. Sophomore All-American candidate Whitney Hendry came up with 17 digs while both Ingrid Felicio and Youngquist had 16 each.
FGCU, which is 3-1 all-time in NCAA tournament action in its short two-year history, swept Presbyterian in the first round. Tampa, which swept Francis Marion in the first round and Barry in the regional semifinals, is tournament tested.
The top-seed and tournament host Spartans have made 19 NCAA tournament appearances and won eight regional titles in their history. Tampa has won two of the past three South Region championship finals. Last year, FGCU upset the Spartans in the first round of the 2004 South Region.
In all, seven eight-team regionals and one seven-team regional will be decided today at on-campus sites around the country. The regional winners advance to the NCAA Division II championship finals, December 1-3, on the campus of one of the final eight institutions.
When: Sunday, November 20 (7 p.m.) at University of Tampa
Where: Tampa, Fla. (Martinez Center)
Admission: Tickets for the event are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. Children under the age of five are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult.
FGCU Record: 27-3
Tampa Record: 27-3
All-time Series: FGCU leads 1-0.
Florida Gulf Coast Notables: FGCU is making its first regional tournament appearance in just its second season of competition...FGCU picked up the 50th win in the program’s history in Friday’s sweep of Presbyterian and is now 51-9 overall…Second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament...Last fall the sixth seeded Eagles upset third seeded Tampa in the first round before falling to second seed North Florida in the semifinals...The Eagles have been ranked No. 25 in the past two AVCA Division II national polls...FGCU boasted a 16-match winning streak during the regular season...Two Eagles earned Daktronics All-South Region honors on Thursday...Sophomore libero Whitney Hendry was named to the first-team while junior middle blocker Ericka Fonseca was a second-team selection...Hendry will now be eligible for the Daktronics Division II All-American team that will be announced in December...The Eagles posted a 6-2 record against NCAA Division II tournament qualifiers this fall, including a 3-1 win at Barry in September, a 3-0 shutout of Francis Marion in the Armstrong Atlantic Pirate Classic in September and a pair of wins over Presbyterian.
Tampa Notables: The Spartans come into the regional final as the No. 6 team in the latest AVCA Division II National poll…They knocked off defending national champion Barry University in three games to reach their third regional final in four years…Won their 15th Sunshine State Conference title this fall…Led by senior middle blocker Ericka Womack, the South Region Player of the Year...Two other players, junior outside hitter Stephanie Rivera and sophomore libero Margeauz Sinibaldi were named to the all-region second team.