NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Gallaudet University volleyball team had its season come to a close on Friday night here at the Freeman Center as No. 5 Christopher Newport University defeated the Bison in straight sets 25-11, 25-20, 25-17 in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Division III women's volleyball tournament before a crowd of 425.
The Bison (24-15) experienced another sluggish start against the Captains (36-2) as they dropped the first set 25-11. Gallaudet was within one point, 8-7, early in the opening set but CNU went on a 7-0 run and later extended the lead to 23-10 to force GU coach Lynn Ray Boren to call a timeout. CNU had four different players record three kills apiece in the first set.
In the second set, the Bison took their first lead in the NCAA tournament with junior Micaela Paulone (Fishers, Ind.) serving GU to a 6-5 lead. The Bison kept the set close throughout as they remained within striking distance (three to five points) from the Captains. Sophomore Ann Whited (Fishers, Ind.) slammed home one of her two kills in the set to cut CNU's lead to two, 20-18. The Captains secured the final two points as they won 25-20.
Gallaudet took a 13-12 lead in the third set that forced Christopher Newport to call a timeout. The Captains then took off out of the break and jumped to a 23-16 lead before it closed out the set with a 25-17win.
Gallaudet was led by Whited who finished the game with eight kills and six digs while fellow sophomore outside hitter Mari Klassen (White Rock, British Columbia) added three kills. North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) South Division Player of the Year junior setter Paige Johnson (North Richland Hills, Texas) led the Bison with 18 assists to go with 11 digs to finish the season with her 13th double-double of the year. Sophomore middle hitter Jessica Israel (Frederick, Md.) had four kills and two blocks. Sophomore defensive specialist Lauren Benedict (Germantown, Md.) led the Bison with 13 digs. Paulone added eight digs and two service aces.
USA South Athletic Conference Player of the Year junior Jessie Heavenrich finished with 30 assists to go with six kills and six digs to pace the Captains. USA South Athletic Conference Libero of the Year sophomore Abby Hogge made seven digs and three service aces. Senior captain Caitlyn Jansen recorded nine kills while sophomores Bailey Jensen and Cory Harris added four and six kills, respectively.
This was the second time in just over two weeks that Gallaudet faced Christopher Newport at the Freeman Center. In the regular-season meeting the Captains won 25-11, 25-21, 25-23.
Gallaudet was making its seventh appearance in the NCAA tournament, the first since 2006, and the third under the direction of Boren. The Bison are now 3-7 all-time in the NCAA tournament. CNU is 3-0 against Gallaudet all-time in the Freeman Center since 2000. GU still holds a 6-4 lead in the series against the Captains.
CNU advances to Saturday's regional semifinal and will face No. 8 Eastern University (30-4) at 6:30 p.m. Eastern was the last team to hand Christopher Newport a loss as the Eagles won 3-1 on October 15. Since that loss the Captains have won 11 straight.
In the other first round matches Randolph-Macon College (26-7) beat Franklin & Marshall (22-7) in five sets, 3-2 while Eastern took down The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (25-8) in three sets, 3-0. Top-seed and No. 9 Colorado College (30-6) received a first round bye and will meet Randolph-Macon in the first semifinal tomorrow at 4 p.m.
The future for the Bison is bright as the defending NEAC champions have no seniors on their roster and are expected to return the entire starting line-up for the 2011 season.