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BETHANY SET TO HOST ECAC VOLLEYBALL FINAL FOUR SATURDAY
Nov. 10 - BETHANY, W.Va. – After rolling to a quarterfinal victory Wednesday and the top seed was upset the same night, the second-seeded Bethany College volleyball team will host the ECAC South Region Tournament semifinals and championship Saturday at Hummel Field House.
The opening semifinal will pit the Bison (29-6) against #3 Swarthmore (24-7) at 11 a.m. That will be followed by the second semifinal featuring fourth-seed Moravian (23-12) against another PAC school Saint Vincent (22-11) in a 2 p.m. match. The winners will square off in the championship match at 5 p.m.
Bethany, who won the 2010 ECAC title, advanced out of the opening round with a 3-0 sweep over #7 Marywood. Senior Carrie Talkington (Moundsville, W.Va./John Marshall) led an extremely efficient attack, as BC finished with a hitting percentage of .500 for the match. Talkington delivered 16 kills and junior Taylor Cassidy (Barboursville, W.Va./Cabell Midland) had 11, while junior setter Jessica Zavatchen (Uniontown, Pa./Laurel Highlands) sent out 46 assists.
The win was also a record-breaking one for the Green and White, as it broke the school single-season record for victories. The previous mark was set by the 1987 team that posted a 28-22 mark. Bethany also continued to be very strong on its home court, which bodes well for Saturday. The Bison are now 10-1 at Hummel Field House this year and have an 18-4 mark on their court in the last two years.
Another record will likely go down in the Bison’s opening match. Zavatchen has 1,387 assists, which is just six away from breaking her own single-season record, set last year. If she breaks the mark, it will be the third straight year the junior setter has reset the single-year standard. Zavatchen broke the school’s career assists record earlier this season and has made her mark nationally as well, as she ranked eighth in all of Division III in assists per game at the beginning of the week.
This year’s ECAC Tournament looks quite similar to the 2010 Final Four field, which was hosted by Saint Vincent. Bethany rallied from two sets down to slip past Swarthmore 3-2 in the semifinals, as Talkington (15), Cassidy (14) and Lauren Goodwill (12) all had double digit kills. In the title match, the Bison took on Saint Vincent and claimed the crown with a 3-0 victory. Talkington cemented her MVP award by pounding down 15 kills and Zavatchen recorded 35 assists and 12 digs.
Swarthmore, who finished third in the Centennial Conference regular season standings, earned its second straight appearance in the ECAC semifinals with a 3-1 victory over Delaware Valley Wednesday night. Junior setter Allie Coleman had a huge night with 10 kills, 49 assists and 12 digs and senior Genny Pezzola delivered 13 kills and 18 digs, as Swarthmore equaled the program’s mark for wins in a year.
Pezzola and Coleman were two of the Garnet’s three All-Centennial Conference selections. Pezzola earned First Team status after leading the team in kills and in addition to setting a new program record for career kills, she is also second in career digs. Senior libero Hillary Santana was also voted First Team after posting a team-best in digs. Coleman, who was a Second Team selection, broke the school’s single-season record for assists.
Moravian, like Bethany, clinched a spot in the semifinals with a 3-0 win in the first round, as the Greyhounds bested Neumann. The victory was highlighted by 11 kills from Taylor Jennings, 32 assists from Kelly Brown and 20 digs from Jesse Krasley. This is the ninth postseason appearance in the last 15 years for Moravian, who also played in last year’s ECAC Tournament, but they were upended in the opening round by Penn State-Altoona.
The Greyhounds have won seven of their last eight matches, with the only loss coming in the Landmark Conference semifinals to Juniata. Junior Samantha Savite led Moravian with 343 kills and added 61 blocks, while senior middle blocker Katie Moquete posted 265 kills and 59 blocks. Krasley is a record-setting libero, as she set the school’s single-season mark with 774 digs so far this year and has a Moravian career record 1,719 coming into Saturday.
Saint Vincent pulled the biggest surprise in the Tournament opening round by rallying from a 2-1 deficit to stun #1 DeSales 3-2. A pair of seniors led SVC’s effort, as Taylor Guido pounded 17 kills and Natalie Hozak compiled 15. Setter Devin McGrath directed the offense with 46 assists and also brought up 22 digs, while Megan Lucas had 26 digs. The top defensive effort at the net was turned in by Brittany Houser, the PAC leader in blocks, as the sophomore middle hitter totaled eight in the triumph.
The combination of Guido (370 kills) and Hozak (339) make a formidable front line attack for the Bearcats. McGrath ranks third among PAC setters with 1,234 assists overall and 10.73 per set while also ranking first on the team with 43 aces. If teams are able to get kill attempts past Houser, who totaled 131 blocks during the regular season, Saint Vincent is very good in the backrow with Hozak (586), Lucas (445) and McGrath (424) ranking in the top 10 in the conference in digs.