PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University makes its first appearance in the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship Tournament this Thursday at 4:30 p.m. when the Panthers meet Bridgewater State College in a first-round match at Williams College.
PSU is one of 48 teams to qualify for the national tournament. The Panthers earned the berth last Saturday by capturing the Little East Conference championship. The winner of Thursday's NCAA first-round match will meet Williams on Friday at 7:00 p.m. in the second round.
The other regional match Thursday at Williams is Endicott vs. Emmanuel, with the winner facing Springfield in the second round on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The two Friday winners will play for the regional title on Saturday.
Plymouth State will take a 28-11 overall record into the tournament. The Panthers tied for first (with Rhode Island College, Western Connecticut and Eastern Connecticut) during the Little East regular season, and won the LEC Tournament with consecutive victories over Keene State (3-0), Western Conn. (3-2), and Eastern Conn. (3-0).
Led by seventh-year head coach Moira Long, PSU is making its third straight post-season appearance after participating in the ECAC Tournament the past two years. The Panthers received the first post-season berth in the program's history in 2002, and picked up the program's first post-season victory last season with an ECAC first-round win over Emmanuel College.
Bridgewater State will be returning to the NCAA Tournament. The Bears captured their sixth straight MASCAC Tournament title on Saturday, and will be making their sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAAs, the longest active streak among any Division III team in New England. BSC has won its last 10 matches and takes a 24-10 record into the NCAAs.
The Panthers are led by the junior tandem of outside hitter Kelly Landry (Nashua, N.H.) and middle hitter Becky Ciulla (Chelmsford, Mass.). Landry averages 4.04 kills, 0.51 aces and 2.44 digs per game while hitting at a .295 attack percentage, while Ciulla contributes 3.62 kills, 0.54 aces, 2.81 digs and 0.79 blocks per game while hitting at .316. Junior setter Amanda Bagwell (Riverside, R.I.) runs the offense, averaging 10.19 assists per game.
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