SOUTH PRINCE GEORGE, VA – Although the women's volleyball season still has the entire month of October ahead, Saturday's Richard Bland College of William & Mary match against Spartanburg Methodist has significant implications on the post season. Simply put, the winner of the noon contest in Statesman Hall earns the top seed in the Region X Tournament held at Spartanburg on October 27, and moves one step closer toward competing for a national NJCAA Division I championship.
The Statesmen enter Saturday's match sporting a 9-4 record. Spartanburg currently stands at 7-7 with two matches to play prior to meeting RBC. The teams met earlier this season at the Wake Tech Eagles Tournament in Raleigh, NC. Behind 15 kills from sophomore Harper Smith, the Statesmen fought off a late push by the Pioneers to earn a hard-fought 3-2 victory (25-20, 25-20, 18-25, 19-25, 15-13).
"We are fortunate to have played Spartanburg once before and it went five exciting sets," said head coach Scott Newton. "We were down with injuries, but came together and made it work. This is a match between two teams vying for the top seed so it's the most important match on our schedule."
On October 27, Spartanburg hosts RBC from Region 10, and Region 17 Andrew College of Cuthbert, Georgia. Should RBC win Saturday's match, the Statesmen would advance to the finals and face either Spartanburg or Andrew College. The winner of that contest advances to Bradenton, Florida to compete in the Region 8 Championships, one of 14 district championships the NJCAA hosts. The two finalists from that event qualify for the NJCAA Division I National Championships on November 15-17 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas.
"From the start of the season the goal has been to advance to the national championships," says Newton.
Smith leads the Statesmen with 183 kills (3.98 kills per set), followed by freshman Clara Smith with 83 (1.80 kps), and fellow freshman Cortney Bowen with 71 (1.59 kps). Redshirt freshman Lauren Basl has 374 assists (8.50 assists per set), distributing the ball to five different players who average 1.5 kills per set or better.
The versatile Smith leads the Statesmen in digs with 118 (2.57 digs per set). Smith leads in attack percentage (.254) and Bowen in total blocks (1.22 per set), which is 12th best in the nation.
Freshman Aeyane Mattress leads Spartanburg in kills (141, 2.76 kps). Fellow freshman Savannah Ducote leads the Pioneers in assists (244, 5.08 aps) and sophomore Leslie Williams in digs (246, 4. 82 dpg), which ranks 18th best in the country.