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KIAC Tournament Preview

Point Park takes No. 5 seed in KIAC Volleyball Tournament Nov. 15-16

Nov. 14, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ET

Point Park Volleyball 2013 Team Photo FH
Photo by Evan Skowvron

KIAC TOURNAMENT BRACKET / POINT PARK STATS / POINT PARK SCHEDULE

KIAC VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Nov. 15-16 at Midway (Ky.) College (12 teams, Single-Elimination)
Nov. 15 -- First Round

No. 5 Point Park (19-18, 8-3 KIAC) vs. No. 12 Alice Lloyd (Ky.) (3-17, 0-11 KIAC), 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 15 -- Second Round (if necessary)
No. 4 Indiana Kokomo (28-10, 8-3 KIAC) vs. No. 5 Point Park-No. 12 Alice Lloyd winner, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 -- Semifinals & Finals (if necessary)

 

By Zachary Weiss, Point Park Athletic Communications Student Assistant

The Point Park University volleyball team will travel to Midway, Ky., for the KIAC Volleyball Tournament, which begins Friday. The 12-team, single-elimination tournament has all 12 teams going to Midway (Ky.) College Nov. 15-16 with the tournament champion getting the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament.

Point Park (19-18, 8-3 KIAC) earned the fifth seed in the tournament and will play No. 12 seed Alice Lloyd (3-17, 0-11) Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the first round. The winner will face No. 4 seed Indiana University Kokomo (28-10, 8-3 KIAC) on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the second round.

Point Park is seeking its second conference title and second bid to the NAIA national tournament if it should win the KIAC Tournament. That will be the Pioneers’ only shot at nationals with them being too far out of the NAIA rankings.

Point Park has played in or won the conference tournament finals in three of the last four years. The Pioneers won the AMC Tournament in 2011 for their first-ever national appearance and also made it to the conference finals in 2009 (AMC) and 2012 (KIAC) coming up a few points short and losing in five sets.

The Pioneers have not played a match since their regular season finale Oct. 30 – a four set victory at NCAA Division II Shippensburg University. Since then, head coach Mike Bruno has had his team regularly practicing at the Student Center in preparation for the tournament making sure to stay ready for the all-important conference tournament. Bruno wants his team to take every opponent seriously with each match potentially being the team’s last.

“We have to approach what we’re doing on our side of the net,” said coach Bruno. “Regardless of who we’re playing, we’re playing an intercollegiate program across the net. We have to respect our opponent, do business accordingly and we’re only as good as our next set, our next match. Right now, Alice Lloyd is our first matchup, and we have to take care of business.”

Should the Pioneers win, they will face Indiana University Kokomo. These two teams played Aug. 29 and Point Park lost in five sets on the road.

The KIAC has two berths to the NAIA national tournament this year. Tournament No. 1 seed Asbury (Ky.) (32-7, 10-1 KIAC), which won the KIAC regular season title, has already locked up a national bid as KIAC regular-season champion The bid to nationals out of the KIAC will be determined by the conference tournament.

Point Park has been very good at times in the KIAC this year – they are the only team to beat Asbury (10-1 KIAC) and are one of only two teams to beat No. 2 seed Indiana East (23-14, 9-2 KIAC)  – but they have also dropped an unexpected match or two. Bruno noted the regular season inconsistencies and during the two week break tried to improve one element in particular.

“The component that we consistently lack is a culture of trust,” Bruno said. “We just have to get after it and focus on basic fundamentals. We need to work on our effort and continue to focus on playing hard and together. Hopefully that trust that we are trying to cultivate will continue to come like it has at times. It just hasn’t been consistent this year.”

After Asbury and Indiana East, the No. 3 seed is Indiana Southeast (16-13, 8-3 KIAC), which beat Point Park at home. No. 4 Indiana Kokomo and No. 5 Point Park round out the other top seeds.

The top four seeds get a bye in the first round. Having to play in the first round, Point Park will have to win twice on Friday and then twice more on Saturday in the semifinals and finals to win the title. After a total of eight matches are played on Friday, the tournament will be down to four teams remaining.

The top seeds on Point Park’s half of the bracket are No. 1 Asbury and No. 4 IU Kokomo. On the other side is No. 2 IU East and No. 3 IU Southeast.

Bruno is not looking ahead to future matchups, stating that each match will present a challenge.

“Our chances are just as good as anyone else’s in the tournament,” Bruno said. “We’re Asbury’s only conference loss this year. I think that we have to remain disciplined and focused, go out there and give maximum effort.”

The following is a look at each team in the KIAC Volleyball Tournament Nov. 15-16.

1. Asbury [32-7, 10-1 KIAC] - Asbury has a first round bye and will see the winner of the No. 8 Cincinnati Christian vs. No. 9 Carlow match. Asbury has won its last 16 matches with its last loss coming Oct.3. Its lone KIAC loss was 3-0 to Point Park. Offensively, Asbury is led by outside hitter Sarah Sterling who has 441 kills on the season with right side hitter Allison Rehner right behind at 384. Defensively, libero Kelly Cole leads the team with 713 digs. Setter Mackenzie Burke has a team high 684 assists while Jessie Bartow has 618.

2. Indiana University East [23-14, 9-2 KIAC] – Indiana University East also has a first-round bye and will face either No. 7 St. Louis College of Pharmacy or No. 10 Midway College. IU East, the four-time defending KIAC champion, has a four match losing streak and has lost three players for the season. It started the season 16-4 before going on a six game losing streak. The Red Wolves lost a four set match at Point Park Sept. 6. Outside hitter Mallory Livingston leads the team with 330 kills. Setter Lindsey Kurz contributed 1,045 assists before being lost for the season. Defensive specialist Meagan Stoker had 559 digs but she also is out for the season. But IU East is without its head coach as Adam Stevenson has resigned, and two key players were dismissed last month.

3. Indiana University Southeast [16-13, 8-3 KIAC] - The Grenadiers received a first round bye and will face the winner of No. 6 Berea and No. 11 Brescia. IU Southeast is on a four game losing streak and one of those losses is against Berea. The Grenadiers faced Point Park Oct. 19 and won in four sets. Middle hitter Sara Schum leads the team in kills with 339. Meaghen Thompkins has 960 assists this year and defensive specialist Stephanie Bradshaw leads the team with 429 digs.

4.  Indiana University Kokomo [28-10, 8-3 KIAC] – In its first season in the KIAC, Indiana Kokomo earned the fourth and final bye from first round play. IU Kokomo won its first seven matches of the season including an Aug. 29 five set match against Point Park. Kokomo is led in kills by outside hitter Micayla Speidel with 511, which is third in the NAIA. Setter Courtney Hanson had 1,095 assists while defensive specialist Lael Burrus registered 548 digs during the regular season.

5. Point Park [19-18, 8-3 KIAC] – Point Park comes in as the fifth seed and faces No. 12 Alice Lloyd. The winner will face No. 4 IU Kokomo in the quarterfinals. Point Park had an up and down season, with the longest winning streak lasting seven games and largest losing streak reaching eight games. In addition various players dealt with injuries throughout the season.

 “We’ve had our fair share of adversity this year,” coach Bruno said. “Our ability to adjust immediately to the adversity has been less than desirable. We’re getting some more of our players healthy and have been in the gym for two weeks. I think we are starting to develop some continuity and confidence.”

Right side hitter Nicole Wurstle leads the Pioneers with 373 kills and is seven kills away from 1,000 for her career. Outside hitter Roxanne Grundmeier has 293 kills and 197 digs. Setter Cara Bradley has 1,197 assists this season, good for 26th in the NAIA, while Olivia Fisher has 600 digs, 28th in the country. Middle hitter Nikki Inquartano leads the KIAC with 126 blocks, and her 1.14 block per game is 17th in the NAIA.

6. Berea [18-11, 8-4 KIAC] – Berea will face No. 11 Brescia in the first round with the winner facing No. 3 IU Southeast. Berea lost to Point Park in straight sets Sept. 13. Taylor Ashworth leads the team with 270 kills. Setter Megan Keller has a team high 740 assists, while teammate Destiney Balser has 422 digs.

7. St. Louis College of Pharmacy [13-19, 5-6 KIAC] – SLCOP faces No. 10 Midway in the first round with the winner facing No. 2 IU East. In the lone meeting earlier this season, SLCOP won in straight sets. Against Point Park, the Pioneers won in straight sets Sept. 14. Outside hitter Alyssa Hitpas has a team high 331 kills. Teammate Kaitlyn LaBoube has 860 assists and Mallory Mensing has 428 digs.

8. Cincinnati Christian [8-23, 4-7 KIAC] – Cincinnati Christian faces No. 9 Carlow in the first round with a quarterfinal match against Asbury at stake. Cincinnati Christian won a five set match against Carlow earlier this season. Against Point Park, the Pioneers won 3-0 on Sept. 12. Mallory Morris leads the team in kills with 384, while Ellie Abel has 694 assists and defensive specialist Lynn Braden has 424 digs.

9. Carlow [17-18, 4-7 KIAC] – Carlow faces No. 8 Cincinnati Christian in the first round with the winner facing top ranked Asbury. Carlow defeated Point Park in four sets on Sept. 4. Nicole Hall, sister of Pioneers alum Alyssa Hall leads the team in kills with 270. Setter Ashley Grooms has 485 assists on the season and libero Amanda McKenzie leads all of the NAIA in total digs with 878.

10.  Midway [6-22, 2-9 KIAC] – Midway will face No. 7 St. Louis College of Pharmacy with the winner facing No. 2 IU East. Point Park defeated Midway 3-0 on Sept. 29. Middle hitter ShaKyra Young leads the team with 206 kills. Setter Shelby Mattingly has 370 assists and outside hitter Christa Prewitt has 267 digs, both good for the team lead.

11.  Brescia [4-30, 1-11 KIAC] – Brescia faces No. 6 Berea with the winner facing No. 3 IU Southeast in the quarterfinals. Point Park defeated Brescia in four sets on Sept. 13. Outside hitter Jordan King leads the team with 203 digs, while teammate Addison Durham has a Bearcats high with 272 digs.

12. Alice Lloyd [3-17, 0-11 KIAC] – Alice Lloyd faces No. 5 Point Park with a match against IU Kokomo on the line. Point Park defeated Alice Lloyd 3-0 on Sept. 14. Both Macy Allen and Sarrah Huber lead the team with 60 kills. Sadie Slone had 100 assists and Katie McFarland registered 167 digs.