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NCAA Bound: Babson, Springfield and Wellesley Earn Bids To NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament; Beavers Tabbed Regional Host

NCAA Bound: Babson, Springfield and Wellesley Earn Bids To NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament; Beavers Tabbed Regional Host

This release is courtesy of the NCAA, Babson, Springfield and Wellesley College Sports Information. 

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Committee announced today the field of 64 teams for the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship. Forty-three conferences were awarded an automatic qualification for the 2018 championship with 20 institutions earning At-Large bids. The New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) will see three members in the tournament, as Babson earned the automatic qualifier with Wellesley and Springfield both earning at-large nods.

Babson

The Babson College women's volleyball team, which booked its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Championship on Saturday, learned on Monday that it was selected as one of eight regional hosts when the 64-team field was announced. The Beavers will host NCAA Tournament matches for the first time in program history after advancing to the Potsdam (N.Y.) Regional final last season. 

Under the direction of eighth-year head coach Eric Neely, Babson earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the fourth time in five seasons with Saturday's four-set win over Springfield College in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) title match. The Beavers (23-8) will host the College of Mount Saint Vincent (14-16), which earned its second NCAA berth after winning the Skyline Conference, in Friday's opening round at 8 p.m.

The winner of Friday's match will take on either Wellesley College (20-6) or Wentworth Institute of Technology (25-4) in Saturday's second round. In the other half of the bracket, Bowdoin College (27-1) will face Worcester State University (23-10), while Eastern University (25-6) meets Johns Hopkins University (21-7) in the first round.

Second round matches are set for Saturday at 2:30 and 5 p.m., while Sunday's regional final will be played at 2 p.m.

Tickets for single sessions are $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for students between the ages of 12-17. All-session passes also are available for $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students ages 12-17. Babson students and children under two will be admitted free of charge.

Springfield

The Springfield College women's volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship for the eighth time in the last nine years and will play Maine Maritime in the opening round on Friday, November 9 at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. 

Springfield, the third-seed in the regional bracket, was one of 19 teams from across the nation to receive an at-large bid.  The Pride will be joined by two other New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) institutions in the tournament, as both Babson and Wellesley will compete on the national stage.

In her eighth season at the helm of the Pride, head coach Moira Long has led the Pride to a 23-7 record this season as this marks the seventh time she has brought a Springfield team to the national tournament. In her previous seven years with Springfield, Long guided the Pride to NCAA Elite Eight in 2011, the NCAA Regional Semifinals in 2012 and 2013, the NCAA Regional Quarterfinals in 2014, and the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015 and 2016.

Maine Maritime earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship after winning their third-straight North Atlantic Conference title in a three-set sweep of SUNY Canton on Saturday.  The Mariners own a 22-6 record on the season and were led by Alexa Cacacie  in the title match as she totaled 14 kills, four blocks, and a dig, to earn Tournament MVP honors.

The winner of the Springfield/Maine Maritime march will take on the winner of the contest between second-seeded Wesleyan (17-5) and seventh-seeded Kean (19-15).  The remainder of the regional is as follows: fourth-seeded Franklin & Marshall (23-7) will play fifth-seed New Paltz (26-8) and top-seed and host Johnson & Wales (31-1) will take on eighth-seed Eastern Connecticut State (23-6) on Friday.  

Springfield and Maine Maritime have played just once before, coming in the first round of 2008 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship when the Pride prevailed 25-10, 25-16, 25-10 at Tufts University on November 13.  In that match, then-NEWMAC Athlete of the Year Heather Lively totaled 17 kills on a .517 hitting percentage to lead the way.


Wellesley

Wellesley will be making the program's second consecutive and 13th overall trip to the NCAA volleyball tournament. The Blue have been to the NCAA Tournament 12 times under the direction of Head Coach Dorothy Webb, collecting an all-time record of 17-13, while advancing to five NCAA National Quarterfinals and making two Final Four (1998, 2001) appearances.

The Blue earned an at-large bid despite falling to New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular-season champion Springfield in the NEWMAC semifinals. Wellesley, Springfield, and regional host Babson will all represent the NEWMAC in this year's NCAA tournament. 

Wentworth earned an automatic bid after claiming the program's first-ever Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship in a three-set sweep of Roger Williams on Sunday. Under the direction of Head Coach Evin Giglio, the 2018 CCC Coach of the Year, the Leopards have matched a program record for wins this season with 25. Wentworth is led by junior Leah Rogoz (Woodridge, Ill.), who had team-highs with 343 kills and 311 digs this season and earned her third straight selection to the CCC All-Conference first team. 

The winner of the Wellesley vs. Wentworth match-up will play the winner of regional host Babson (23-8 overall, 8-2 NEWMAC) and Mount St. Vincent (14-16 overall, 9-4 Skyline) on Saturday at 5:00 PM in the regional semifinals. Sunday's regional final will take place at 2:00 PM.

The winner of this weekend's regional will advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals, November 15-17, 2018, at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.