CWU Volleyball Selected to Compete in Division II Championship - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

CWU Volleyball Selected to Compete in NCAA Division II Championship

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From CWU Athletics

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 18) -- The Central Washington University volleyball team will make its return to the NCAA Division II post-season for the first time since 2006, as the Wildcats have been seeded sixth in the West Region for the 2012 tournament.

CWU (21-7) will open the eight-team, single-elimination tournament in Laie, Hawaii, on Thursday, Nov. 29 versus third-seeded Cal State San Bernardino (22-8). The match time has yet to be determined.

  "Extending the season with this group of players and coaches is the most satisfying part," said 17th-year head coach Mario Andaya. "The team has worked, persevered, and believed all season they could get better each day. I am so happy for the seniors and the memories they are creating."

The Wildcats, who tied for second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings with a 14-4 league record, are one of two GNAC teams to be selected for the West Regional. Conference champion Western Washington University (23-3, 16-2 GNAC), with whom CWU split during the regular season, is seeded fourth in the regional.

CWU is making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament. The Wildcats qualified three consecutive years from 2004-06, earning automatic berths from the GNAC as its league champion in 2004 and 2005 before an at-large berth in 2006. CWU was seeded eighth in the 2006 tournament and faced Cal State San Bernardino, losing in three sets to the Coyotes.

The opening-round match-up with CSUSB will be the seventh all-time meeting between the two schools, with the Wildcats having lost the previous six. The last meeting between CWU and CSUSB came in Independence, Ore., during a non-conference tournament in 2010, with the Coyotes winning in straight sets.

Also aligned on the Wildcats' half of the regional bracket for possible opposition in a regional semifinal are second-seeded Grand Canyon University (23-5) and seventh-seeded San Francisco State University (21-8). CWU played GCU earlier this season, losing in five sets at Phoenix, Ariz., but the Wildcats did not face SF State in 2012.

Tournament host Brigham Young University-Hawaii (21-3) is the Pacific West Conference champion, and the Seasiders face eighth-seeded UC San Diego (20-10). The other first-round match-up pits Western Washington against fifth-seeded Sonoma State University (22-8).

Match times and additional information for the regional tournament are expected to be announced later this coming week.

CWU is led by senior outside hitter Marcy Hjellum (Kennewick, Wash./Kamiakin HS) and junior middle blocker Erin Smith (Selah, Wash.). Hjellum posted double-doubles in 20 of 26 regular-season matches, ranked third in the GNAC in kills (3.79 per set) and points (4.27 per set), and was 11th in the conference in digs (3.39 per set). Smith finished second in the GNAC with a .360 hitting percentage while also ranking among the conference leaders in blocks (sixth, 0.94 per set). Sophomore libero Kaely Kight (Spokane, Wash./Mead HS) averaged 5.08 digs per set to rank third in the conference.

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