Volleyball team wins in NCAA Tournament

Awesome. The volleyball team gets the school’s first ever NCAA tournament win with an exciting 5 game set against Florida A&M. A great job by Coach Nold and the players. If you didn’t get to see them play this year, you really missed out. Here is the article from jsugamecocksports.com:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Faced with a 2-1 deficit, the Jacksonville State volleyball team rallied to win the final two sets and claim the Gamecocks’ first-ever NCAA Tournament win in the form of a 3-2 defeat of Florida A&M in Saturday’s first round.

The Gamecocks (27-7) won their 12th-straight fifth-set match but had to rally to force the deciding game. After claiming a 25-22 win in the opening set, the Lady Rattlers (17-10) rolled to wins in the second and third sets and put JSU’s backs against the wall. A late fourth-set rally forced the match into the deciding one, a place the Gamecocks are a perfect 10-0 in 2009.

Senior Brittney Whitten, the only player on the Gamecocks’ roster that played in their last NCAA appearance in 2006, put her team on her shoulders. The Boonville, Ind., native recorded her 26th career double-double with 19 kills and 14 digs. Her match-high kills total came on a .283 attack percentage that saw just six errors in 46 attacks.

Juniors Kara Slater and Caitlin Vorbeck provided the Gamecocks’ production up front. Slater, a Colorado Springs, Colo., native, knocked down nine kills on a .389 attack percentage, while blocking four shots at the net. Vorbeck, a Raytown, Mo., native, assisted on six of the Gamecocks’ 11.5 team blocks while pitching in with 12 kills on offense.

Sophomore Lauren Harkins, the school’s single-season record holder for digs, added a team-best 15 to her total on Saturday. The native of Louisville, Ky., now has 648 on the year, 122 more than the previous record set by Kisha West in 2005. Senior Paige Beasley did what she could on the back row to continue her career, picking up 10 digs to round out a trio of JSU players in double figures.

Junior Brooke Schumacher dished 43 assists and grabbed nine digs in the win. She now has 1242 on the season, the seventh-highest total in school history. The native of Lake in the Hills, Ill., also assisted on four blocks. The Gamecocks’ two freshmen, Jen Meyer and Alyx Schulte, each added eight kills in the match.

The Lady Rattlers were led by Maria Gomez’s double-double of 19 kills and 11 digs. Gomez hit .375 in the win, while Jovana Blazeski added 16 kills on 58 swings and 14 digs on the back row.

In the opening set, neither team led by more than three points until a late 9-1 JSU run turned an 18-15 deficit into a 24-19 Gamecock lead. The Rattlers rattled off the next three points before a Whitten kill gave Jax State a 25-22 win. The victory was the Gamecocks’ first ever set win in their NCAA Tournament history.

FAMU stormed out of the gates in the second set to build an early 11-5 lead. JSU never pulled any closer than three points before the Rattlers tied the match with a 25-18 win. JSU hit for a slightly better percentage in the second set than the first but saw the Rattlers commit just two errors and hit .429 en route to tying the match.

In the third set, the Gamecocks built an early 8-5 lead, but FAMU put together a 9-1 run that put the Rattlers in control of the set with a 14-9 lead. JSU slowly cut into the lead before pulling to within one at 16-15 and tying it at 17-17. The two exchanged points twice before a FAMU error gave JSU a 20-19 lead. With the Gamecocks trailing 23-22, an Alyx Schulte attack was ruled in by the line judge but overturned by the lead official setting up a 25-23 FAMU win that put the Gamecocks’ backs against the wall.

The fourth set started off with 13 lead changes before a small run by the Gamecocks gave them an 18-15 lead. The three-point advantage was the largest by either team to that point in the set. JSU never looked back, rolling to a 25-20 win that sent the match into the deciding fifth set.

A 5-3 JSU run to start the fifth set was answered by a 4-0 FAMU run that put the Rattlers in front. The two exchanged blows until a Jen Meyer kill gave the Gamecocks a 13-12 lead. They never looked back, sealing the match on a Blazeski attack that missed wide and gave the Gamecocks a 15-13 win.

JSU will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, a place only the Gamecocks’ softball team has seen before. Jax State will take on the No. 3 National Seed and host Florida State at 2 p.m. CT.

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