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Volleyball returns home from their first NCAA Championship satisfied and yearning for more

Peter Cooke

Issue date: 11/19/10 Section: Sports
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Brennon Ham hosted this year's Drag Ball, starting the event with a brief history of the art of drag.
Brennon Ham hosted this year's Drag Ball, starting the event with a brief history of the art of drag.
[Click to enlarge]

The "Kitty Sex Panther" was among the many participants in Spectrum's Drag Ball, currently in its eighth year.
[Click to enlarge]
The end to the Case Western Reserve University volleyball season came later than everyone thought and ended before anyone wanted. The Spartans lost in their maiden trip to the NCAA Division III Championship in the first round to SUNY-Cortland, 3-2. They pushed the region's third seed to the wire but ultimately fell short in the final set, 15-11.

"Our team went to Frostburg with a lot of confidence after picking up so many big wins over the course of the season. We had two great practices there and our players were very focused," said head coach Karen Farrell.

CWRU (24-11) came out on fire against the Red Dragons (34-7), playing a back-and-forth match. The lead changed 14 times along with 40 ties. Cortland managed to steal the first set 26-24 and ran away with the second 25-18. With their backs against the wall, the Spartans managed to win the third set 25-23. Once again in a do-or-die fourth set, the Spartans started to gain momentum, winning 25-17. The fourth set was all Spartans, who led the entire set.

With everything tied up, CWRU's first trip to the NCAA Tournament would be one of the championship's most thrilling first-round matchups. The fifth set saw the Spartans jump out to an early lead. The Red Dragons would counter, as the teams tied nine times during the final set, alternating points until finally the score was tied at 11. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Red Dragons caught fire, rallying for four straight points to win the match and advance.

"Overall we played well, exceeding our average offensive production and making minimal errors, but SUNY Cortland's attackers outplayed ours and their size created some tougher match-ups versus our block," said Farrell. "In order to win games three and four, we played nearly flawlessly and put away 15 and 16 kills to earn those sets. Our players are extremely competitive and have learned how to battle all the way through a match. We have forced other teams to play extremely well to beat us."

The 3-2 loss was one of just four in the first round of the NCAA Championship.

Middle hitter Tricia McCutchan and outside Hitter Rachael Suchy ended their award winning seasons in impressive fashion, tallying 19 kills apiece. Sophomore Breana Freeman showed there were no kinks in her hand after a collision last week, posing 52 assists and 13 digs. Libero Rachel Gulasey led the defense with 25 digs.

Senior Beth Karpinski played on the back line, adding five kills and 17 digs in her final game at CWRU.

Despite the team's early absence from the tournament, the Spartans wrap up arguably the most successful season in school history. The team earned its best UAA finish, ending up fourth, and the school's first-ever NCAA berth.

The team isn't resting on its laurels. The Spartans earned five votes in the most recent AVCA top-25 poll, the first votes in known history. The squad also loses just two seniors and will return five starters next year. Along with two returning All-UAA honorees, the 2011 Spartans will post a team that has matured during some of the school's best seasons ever.

"A new bar has been set for our volleyball program," said Farrell."The expectation going forward will be to beat the ranked teams in our region, compete well with the nationally ranked teams within our conference, and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Our players will need to continue to play one set at a time, match-by-match, and stay focused on playing well as a team to reach our goals as we work hard to move the Case volleyball program to the next level. With a large returning veteran squad, the 2011 season will be exciting."

Cortland would lose to regional host Frostburg State University in the second round 3-2. American Volleyball Coaches Association national-ranked No. 3 Juniata College then thumped Frostburg State to win the regional and advance to Washington University in St. Louis, where the final three rounds will be held.

CWRU has three fellow UAA teams still alive in the tournament. No. 3 Washington will face No. 15 New York University in the quarterfinals. UAA champion and top-ranked Emory University face No. 5 Christopher Newport University. The only other UAA team to receive a bid was the No. 23 University of Chicago, who were knocked out in the first round 3-0 by No. 6 Hope College.

Frostburg State regional winner Juniata will face No. 12 University of St. Thomas. The final two teams in the "Elite 8" are No. 24 University of Massachusetts-Boston and No. 10 Calvin College.

The NCAA Championship game will be held Sunday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Washington University Fieldhouse.
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Issue Summary


  • A conversation with Divya Aggarwal
  • Adiós, Four Loko
  • Faculty Forum addresses questions surrounding core curriculum
  • International student programs make strides, issues remain
  • USG Brief


  • Football thumps Tartans on senior day, win Academic Bowl
  • Men drown competition, win Veale classic; women split
  • Men seeded second in UAA, eye historic season
  • Spartan women third, men seventh at NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional
  • Spartans drop first dual meet against Baldwin-Wallace
  • Volleyball returns home from their first NCAA Championship satisfied and yearning for more
  • Women to improve winning season, sixth-place finish


  • Editorial: Unwilling to think beyond the possible
  • Leading by examples: bullying starts - and ends - with parents
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Whores no more: the case for legalizing prostitution


  • Atlantic/Pacific
  • CARES hosts vegan feast, panel in hopes of debunking myths, addressing concerns
  • Documentary Inside Job a frightening account of current financial crisis
  • Gold Motel speaks on album, artistic processes
  • Music department caps semester with variety of concerts
  • Pizza! Pizza!
  • Sigma Psi to create "magic" with 32nd Mr. CWRU
  • Students blur gender lines in eighth annual Drag Ball
  • The rules of attraction
  • Who's wearing the pants?
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