MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The 2017 NESCAC Champions, the Wesleyan University volleyball team, will return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001 and just the second time in program history. The Cardinals will face Wellesley College—who earned an at-large bid from the NEWMAC after losing to MIT in the conference championships—in the First Round Friday, Nov. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at host school Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.
Wesleyan enters the tournament with an incredible 21-5 overall record after claiming its first-ever NESCAC Championship and is seeded fourth in the eight-team pod. The Blue boasts a 22-6 mark and returns to the national postseason for the first time since 2013 and the 12th time in program history. Wellesley, seeded fifth, holds a 17-12 overall record in postseason play while the Cardinals are 1-1 in their lone appearance.
The winner advances to the Second Round on Saturday, Nov. 11 (5 p.m.) and will play the winner of the No. 8 Johnson & Wales vs. Elms College match.
- The Cardinals are led by 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year Nicole Hilton as well as first team all-conference selection Stasie Litinsky '20 and second team honoree Phia Bellizzi.
- Hilton and Litinsky were also named to the 2017 AVCA Division III Northeast All-Region Team.
- Hilton leads the league in hitting percentage with a .345 clip and is averaging 2.78 kills per set and 0.78 blocks per set. Litinsky averages 2.80 kills per set with a .252 hitting percentage and Bellizzi leads the defensive efforts with 5.83 digs per set—second-best in the NESCAC.
- As a team, Wesleyan ranks 23rd in all of Division III in assists (12.33/set), 26th in kills (13.10/set), 31st in win-loss percentage (.808), and 35th in hitting percentage (.225).
- The Cardinals have won five of their last six and are 7-1 in neutral site matches this season including a win over then-No. 24 Christopher Newport (3-2).
- The Blue opened the 2017 season with two-straight losses and went 2-3 in their first five but rattled off 12-consecutive wins to go 20-3 the rest of the way.
- Leading the way for Wellesley is New England All-Region selection Yasmine Reece, as well as honorable mentions Michelle Li, Samantha Hoang and Lauren Gedney.
- Reece, a middle hitter, earned her second All-Region honor in three seasons. She averages 2.70 kills per set with a .338 hitting percentage including 1.02 blocks per set. Gedney is leading the team in kills in her first season with the program and has 358 (3.51/set) on the year with a .238 attack mark.
- Hoang, the Blue's libero, is averaging 4.34 digs per set and Li, the team's setter, is dishing out 9.27 assists per set.
- As a team, Wellesley ranks 71st in the country in blocks (1.83/set), 83rd in hitting percentage (.203), and 98 in kills (12.11/set).