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PREVIEW: Women's Volleyball Set For Rematch Against Former CAC Rival In NCAA Regional Quarterfinals

PREVIEW: Women's Volleyball Set For Rematch Against Former CAC Rival In NCAA Regional Quarterfinals

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Marymount University women's volleyball team opens up NCAA tournament play for the first time in program history on Friday, November 9, traveling to Juniata College to take on former Capital Athletic Conference-rival University of Mary Washington in the regional quarterfinals. Start time is set for 5:30 p.m.

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How We Got Here

The Saints (26-4) have produced one of the most successful seasons in program history, with the fewest losses in a single season and the best win percentage. This success, along with winning the program's first conference title in the first season of the new Atlantic East Conference, Marymount earned a Pool B At-Large bid into the NCAA tournament. Typically, a conference title would earn a program an automatic bid into the tournament, but with the Atlantic East being newly formed, the automatic qualifier does not come into effect until the third year. 

How They Got Here

The Eagles (20-11) earned a Pool C At-Large bid into the NCAA tournament after falling short in the CAC championship to nationally-ranked Christopher Newport University. After topping the Captains in the regular season to secure a perfect 7-0 record in league play, UMW earned the top seed into the conference tournament where they advanced to the title match this past Saturday against CNU. The Eagles fell behind early, 2-0, but rallied back for two-straight games to send the match to a deciding set. Although trailing much of the set, the Eagles grinded back to take a 13-12 advantage late. Needing just two points to take the match and earn the automatic qualifier to the tournament, UMW surrendered three-straight kills to the Captains to fall 15-13. 

Last Time We Met

The two squads went head-to-head earlier this season, September 26, on the Saints' home court. It was the first time the two teams played each other on Marymount's court since the 2016 season when the Saints defeated the 12th-ranked Eagles, 3-1, for the program's first-ever AVCA Top-25 victory. In a similar fashion, Marymount secured early momentum with a first-set victory, 25-19. The Eagles answered with the second set, but the Saints rattled back a third set win, 25-20, and capped it off with a victory in the fourth, 25-19, to take the match. Senior Caroline Hanson had a career night on the attack side, posting a career- and match-high 22 kills on a .245 hitting percentage. She added a season-high 17 digs for her sixth double-double of the year, second straight. Both of those totals in kills and digs were eventually topped throughout the season. Sophomore Maggie Viniard also had a career night, diving out for a career- and team-high 19 digs while sending out a match-high 37 assists for her fifth double-double of the season. 

Past Four Seasons

The senior class for Marymount has played the Eagles five times in their career entering Friday's NCAA matchup, winning twice. Both of the victories were at home, this season and in 2016 when UMW was ranked 12th in the country. In the past four seasons, they have only played Mary Washington once in the postseason, falling in Fredericksburg in the CAC semifinals, 3-0.  

Honoring The Deserving

The Atlantic East Conference announced its first-ever All-Conference awards on Wednesday, and the Saints were well represented across the board. Hanson was named Co-Player of the Year and earned a spot on First Team. She was joined on First Team with Viniard and sophomore Myah Cordrey, while senior Emily Abramaitys and junior Theresa Buscemi sported spots on Second Team.

Familiarity In The Pod

Beyond playing the Eagles this season, the regional pod in Huntingdon also has two other familiar faces. The Saints traveled to Juniata earlier in the season to take on the then-No. 7 Eagles, falling 3-0. The loss snapped a 10-match win streak for Marymount. They also took on former CAC foe Christopher Newport on the road, falling to the then-No. 24 Captains, 3-0. The final two sets were very close, dropping the second set in extra points, 27-25, and the third set, 25-23. 

What's Next?

Pending a victory over the Eagles, the Saints would take on the winner of host No. 6 Juniata and Notre Dame of Maryland University in the regional semifinals on Saturday, November 10. Start time is set for 5 p.m.