Friday, November 30, 2007

UAlbany Volleyball beats Cleveland State in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament

University Park, Pa. – Amanda Cowdrey and Valerie Sourbeer finished with 11 kills apiece to lead UAlbany to a 3-0 sweep of Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament at Penn State’s Rec Hall. UAlbany (24-9) controlled the match, taking the three games with scores of 30-20, 30-20 and 30-25. With the victory, the Great Danes become the third UAlbany team to win an NCAA Division I Tournament game, following the 2007 men’s lacrosse and softball teams.

The Great Danes built up a quick 5-1 lead in game one as Cleveland State’s Alexis Korovich recorded a hitting error off a Brooke Stanley serve. A service ace by Teresa Coppiellie followed by a Cowdrey kill gave UAlbany an 8-3 lead. Senior middle blocker Ashley Crenshaw tallied back-to-back kills in a four point swing for the Great Danes in the middle of the game, putting UAlbany up 20-10. The Vikings pulled within 25-18 late in the game, but a kill from Cowdrey and a Megan Mental service error for Cleveland State sealed the game one win for the Great Danes.

The Vikings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second game, but UAlbany scored four unanswered points to take control. Cleveland State pulled to within 6-5 on a kill by Jenni Ramminger, but UAlbany responded with three straight points to put some distance between the teams. Later in the game, Cowdrey and junior middle blocker Kamisha Kellam combined for a block, one of seven total blocks in the match for Kellam, to give the Great Danes a 23-15 advantage. After a kill by Beth Greulich pulled the Vikings within 26-20, UAlbany rattled off the final four points of the game, ending with a block assist credited to Crenshaw and sophomore Kate Eckhardt.

A solo block by Alexis Korovich on an attack by Crenshaw gave Cleveland State a 3-0 lead to start the deciding game. Sourbeer connected on a kill and the Vikings’ Amy Benz had an attack error to tie the game at 3-3 in the early going. Greulich and Ramminger combined for a block to give Cleveland State a 5-3 advantage, but the Great Danes took advantage of an Eckhardt kill and three consecutive errors by the Vikings and took a 7-5 lead. UAlbany never looked back, steadily building a 22-16 lead on two straight service aces by Eckhardt. The Great Danes had match point at 29-24, but recorded a service error to extend the match. Cowdrey took an assist from Tawny Dahmes to slam home the final kill, and give UAlbany its first NCAA Tournament win as a Division I program.

“We played our best match of the year tonight,” said head coach Kelly Sheffield, who has lead the UAlbany program to three NCAA Tournament appearances in the past four seasons. “The team executed the same plan given to them and they came here and played with a lot of confidence and fight. We had great effort and execution from everyone.”

Dahmes led the Great Danes defensively with 13 digs while Stanley finished with a match-high 33 assists to go along with six digs, two service aces and two block assists. Kellam added seven kills to match her seven total blocks while Crenshaw tallied six kills and four total blocks.

Greulich led Cleveland State with 10 kills while Korvich added nine kills and four digs. Jordan Bateman led the Vikings defensively with 14 digs and also recorded two service aces. Setter Mel Snyder had 29 assists for Cleveland State (23-9).

“I’m proud of the freshmen and the way they came out today,” offered Crenshaw. “This was a bigger stage and a bigger match, but we stayed focused and were able to accomplish the goals we set in the preseason.”

UAlbany, which becomes the first America East volleyball team to win an NCAA match since Hofstra in 1996, advances to the second round of the tournament and will face the winner of the Penn State/Siena match. The second-round match will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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