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Wesleyan Looks to Defend NESCAC Title this Weekend

Photo by Jonas Powell '18
Photo by Jonas Powell '18

For the second year in a row, the Wesleyan University volleyball team secured the No. 2 seed at the NESCAC Tournament as the Cardinals posted a 9-1 conference record during the regular season. The nine wins tie the program record that was set in 2001. Wesleyan, the defending NESCAC Champion, begins its title defense on Friday, Nov. 2 against seventh-seeded Bates (14-8, 4-6 NESCAC). The match is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and will be played at the host institution, top-seeded Bowdoin (24-1, 10-0 NESCAC).

>> 2018 Highlight Video  |  NESCAC Championship Central <<

Wesleyan (16-4, 9-1 NESCAC) is making its third straight championship appearance and is the No. 2 seed for the fourth time overall. Last year, the Cardinals won the program's first NESCAC title with a 3-1 win against the No. 1 seed, Tufts. Wesleyan has one of the top all-around defenses in the conference, averaging a league-best 19.46 digs per set and ranks second in blocks per set (1.68).

Bates is making its fourth straight appearance in the NESCAC Championship and is the No. 7 seed for the second time in three years. The Bobcats are looking for their first NESCAC postseason victory since 2003. Bates closed out the regular season winning five of its last six matches en route to the program's most overall wins (14) since 2009. Bates is 2-1 against Wesleyan in the NESCAC Tournament, but the two squads last met in the 2002 quarterfinals, with the Bobcats recording a 3-2 win. This season, Wesleyan defeated Bates, 3-1, at Wesleyan on October 13.

AT A GLANCE: NO. 2 WESLEYAN

  • The Cardinals are 7-13 all-time in 14 NESCAC Tournament appearances with one championship and one runner-up finish.
  • They enter this weekend ranked No. 3 in the New England region behind only Johnson & Wales (Providence) and Bowdoin.
  • As a team, Wesleyan is third in the conference in kills with an average of 12.92 per set and third in assists with 12.16 per set.
  • Offensively, the Cardinals feature a well-balanced attack and are led by juniors Mia Hogan and Stasie Litinsky with 2.77 and 2.76 kills per set, respectively. Hogan ranks 12th in the conference and Litinsky sits right behind her at 13th. Litinsky also ranks 11th among league leaders in hitting percentage (.268), while Nicole Hilton – the 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year – ranks 12th (.267) and Hogan is 17th (.258).
  • Junior setter Kaira Muraoka-Robertson is seventh in the NESCAC in assists, averaging 7.85 per set, while also averaging 2.44 digs.
  • Defensively, Wesleyan has excelled all season and is paced by second-year libero Phia Bellizzi. Bellizzi leads the NESCAC in digs per set (5.80) and ranks second in total digs (429). Mia Jago has been excellent in her first year and is a force at the net, averaging 0.86 blocks per set to rank fourth among league leaders.

2018 NESCAC WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Friday, November 2 – Sunday, November 4
hosted by Bowdoin

Quarterfinals - Friday, November 2
No. 8 Trinity at No. 1 Bowdoin – 5 p.m. (Court 1) l Video
No. 7 Bates vs. No. 2 Wesleyan – 5 p.m. (Court 2) l Video
No. 6 Williams vs. No. 3 Amherst – 8 p.m. (Court 1) l Video
No. 5 Middlebury vs. No. 4 Tufts – 8 p.m. (Court 2) l Video

Semifinals - Saturday, November 3
Winner of 4/5 vs. Winner of 1/8 - 1 p.m. l Video
Winner of 3/6 vs. Winner of 2/7 - 3:30 p.m. l Video

Championship - Sunday, November 4
Semifinal Winners - 12 p.m. l Video