The Northern Kentucky University Volleyball team has received an at-large bid with an NCAA Division II Tournament berth, in spite of being upset by Southern Indiana in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament Nov. 15.
The Norse will enter the contest as the sixth seed in the Midwest Region and will begin tournament play against fellow GLVC East Division co-champion Lewis University, marking the third time the Norse and Flyers have met this season.
The teams split two regular-season matches, with Lewis sweeping the visiting Norse 3-0 – by scores of 26-24, 25-19, and 25-23 – becoming the first team to defeat NKU since the University of Tampa tournament at the beginning of the season, and NKU winning the latter of the two meetings in five sets for a share of the GLVC East championship on Nov 8.
NKU Head Coach Carlos Chia says the experience his team has against Lewis will play a large role as they prepare to upend the Flyers.
“Well, we have prior experience and we’ll study film and video and be ready,” he said.
He added that lack of momentum – from the upset loss in the GLVC tournament – will not be a factor against the Norse but will instead serve as motivation for his team.
“After an early exit from the conference (tournament) everyone’s more hungry this time,” he said. “We have four seniors thinking their careers are coming to a close soon enough and they want to extend it as far as they can.”
In the first round GLVC Tournament loss, which occured three days before the NKU’s NCAA tournament berth was announced, Southern Indiana posted a mere .172 hitting percentage as a team but was able to force the match into five sets, slightly winning the first and fourth sets- by scores of 25-23 and 26-24, respectfully.
The Screaming Eagles (17-14), who entered the tournament as the third seed from GLVC West Division, rallied from a 9-7 deficit to claim the win in the fifth set of the match and knock the then-No. 24 nationally ranked Norse (27-7) out of the GLVC tournament.
The Norse, the second seed from the GLVC East Division, attacked at a .234 hitting percentage as a team and won the second and thirds sets, both, 25-18 but were unable to hold onto a two-point lead in the final set.
NKU maintained the lead throughout much of the set but an attaching error allowed Southern Indiana to tie the set at nine and begin a 9-4 run to overcome the defacit and eventually claim the final set.
The loss marked the third consecutive time the Norse have dropped their first round match in the tournament and the first time since 2004 that NKU has been defeated by the Southern Indiana, who moved on to become the tournament’s runner-up.
The Screaming Eagles were swept in the Finals match – by none other than Lewis, who won the GLVC Tournament for the third consecutive year.
NKU’s NCAA Midwest Regional match against Lewis is set to be played on Nov. 21, in Allendale, Mich.