MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – For the second year in a row, the Wesleyan University volleyball team will compete in the NCAA Division III Championships as the Cardinals (17-5) earned an at-large bid to the national postseason tournament and will face Kean College (19-15) on Friday, Nov. 9 at 12:30 p.m. Johnson & Wales (Providence) will serve as the regional host.
"I am excited to be returning to the NCAA Championship tournament with our team," said Head Coach Ben Somera. "This is a great milestone for our program and an exciting opportunity to compete on the national stage."
Wesleyan was the lone team from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) to earn an at-large bid, while Bowdoin won the NESCAC title to claim the conference's automatic berth. It's the first time in program history that the Cardinals have qualified for the tournament in back-to-back years, and it's the third time overall (2018, '17, '01). They are 2-2 all-time in the NCAA Championships and return to Johnson & Wales for the second year in a row.
Kean won its second-straight New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship with a sweep of Montclair State to earn an automatic bid. The Cougars are making their fifth postseason appearance in program history, having been in 2017, 2001, 1995 and 1994. They are still looking for their first tournament win.
Wesleyan and Kean have one common opponent this year – Swarthmore College. The Cardinals defeated Swarthmore, 3-1 (25-23, 27-29, 25-16, 25-14), while the Cougars lost, 3-0 (25-17, 25-20, 25-18). Friday's match will mark the second meeting ever between the two teams, with Wesleyan claiming a 3-0 victory in the first-ever matchup in 1999.
The Cardinals earned the No. 2 seed in the region while Kean secured the No. 7 seed. The team that advances will face the winner of third-seeded Springfield (23-7) vs. sixth-seeded Maine Maritime (22-6) in the Regional Semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 2:30 p.m.