Norse proves its worth in classic

The Northern Kentucky University Volleyball Team made some noise in the North Alabama Classic in Florence, Ala., shocking No. 8 Ashland University and No. 9 University of North Alabama Aug. 24 and 25.

“North Alabama puts on a great tournament, presenting some of the best teams in the nation in the tournament including North Dakota, North Alabama and Ashland, who made it to the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA Tournament,” said Head Coach Carlos Chia.

After victories over AU and UNA, the Norse (4-0) should reach the Top 25 in the AVCA poll for the NCAA Division II. What was more exciting about the upsets was that NKU defeated NAU on its home floor.

“The two weeks of preseason and lots of practice are paying off for us,” Chia said. “By no means, the leadership is carrying the team.”

When looking at the matches, Chia could not pinpoint anyone in particular standing out in the tournament.

“Every match and situation was different. Senior body is setting the tones,” Chia said.

“Natalie Ford is our center and earned the position rightfully after Andrea Lanham graduated. The team is distributing the ball very well, and you have to give credit to Assistant Coach Michaele Blackburn, because she is doing an excellent job in scouting teams for us.”

Senior Tristen Dye had 16 kills and 12 digs against Ashland, the defending 2006 Great Lakes Region champions. Fellow senior Liz Homes added 10 kills to lead the Norse to victory over Ashland.

NKU limited Ashland’s star player hitter Mary Kate Glowe to only eight kills and a -.026 hitting percentage.

“We served away from her, and tried to keep her from getting into any kind of rhythm,” Blackburn said according to NKU Athletics Website.

“That does not always work, but it forced her into trying to tip and roll, and our players did a great job of keeping (Ashland’s) offense out of rhythm.”

The volleyball team defeated AU 30-25, 32-30, 30-25 to finish the weekend at 4-0.

Not only did NKU upset AU and UNA, but it also put on a show against the University of North Dakota.

Liz Holmes and Kristina Eisenmenger combined for 31 kills in the first game of the NAC. Holmes had 18 kills and hit .452, with Eisenmenger having 13 kills with a .350 average.

The Norse limited the Fighting Sioux to a .142 average.

UND is in its last year in Division II, moving to Division I in 2008. The all-time series between UND and NKU is tied at 1-1.

With the end of the week and complete sweep of the North Alabama Classic, the NKU Volleyball Team has received at least one award, which went to Dye. She was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Volleyball Player of the Week.

“I was taught by my AD (Jane Meier) that the polls mean nothing,” Chia said.

The College Sports Television/ American Volleyball Coaches Association Coaches Top 25 Poll, which comes out on Sept. 3.