KINSTON, N.C. — For the eighth time in program history, the Catawba Valley Community College volleyball team will take the national stage.
The top-seeded Red Hawks (33-9) swept third-seeded Walters State (22-9) in the Region X/District O championship match on Saturday at Lenoir Community College, winning their eighth district championship in program history.
Set scores were 25-17, 25-18 and 25-12.
With the victory, CVCC returns to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) DII National tournament, which takes place Nov. 14-17 in Charleston, W.Va.
"I knew at the beginning of the year that we had the talent that we needed to make it back nationals this year," said CVCC head volleyball coach Shannon Hudson. "It was just whether the girls believed in our program and our systems and trusted each other enough to do the little things, and they did. They played so well together in this last match today. I was really proud of them."
The Red Hawks reached the tournament finals with a 3-0 victory against No. 4 Pitt during the opening match of the Region X/District O tournament on Saturday. Set scores were 25-16, 25-15 and 25-18.
Region X Player of the Year Emma Clark led the charge for Catawba Valley in the match with 11 kills, while fellow freshman Meredith Patterson added 10 kills.
With No. 3 Walters State (Region 7 champion) upsetting No. 2 Surry (Region X regular-season runner-up) in the other tournament semifinal, Catawba Valley automatically clinched its seventh-straight and 11th overall Region X championship.
Coming out with an aggressive approach during its District championship match against the Senators, Catawba Valley seized control early and often, only trailing for a handful of times during the contest en route to its title win in three-straight sets.
"We tried to stay really aggressive with our serve and put pressure on every ball," Hudson said. "It's tough to get [Walters State] out of system with the way they run their setters. We knew what we had to do. We had a good game plan going in, and we executed it well."
Patterson recorded a team-high 13 kills in the championship final. Emma Clark and Rachel Delcamp added eight and seven kills, respectively, and the Red Hawks recorded 10 aces as a team, including two apiece from Delcamp, Emily Williams, Madison Bolch and tournament MVP Emilee Webber.
Webber, Emily Williams and Macy Pope — all captains — were named to the All-Region X/District O tournament team.
The Red Hawks' NJCAA National tournament appearance in a couple of weeks will be the first for the sophomore quarter of Webber, Williams, Karsyn Mundy and Na-Diea Atkins.
"The sophomore didn't get to experience it last year, so this is a great opportunity for them to get to go," Hudson said. "It's just a wonderful tournament and a wonderful atmosphere up there. It's the top 16 teams in the country. You get to hang and play some really good volleyball. For them to get to have this experience is once in a lifetime for sure."
Region X/District P tournament (at Lenoir Community College)
Quarterfinals (on Friday)
Game one: No. 4 Pitt 3, No. 5 Louisburg 2 (25-21, 16-25, 25-19, 24-26, 15-3)
Game two: No. 1 Catawba Valley 3, No. 8 Lenoir 0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-20)
Game three: No. 2 Surry 3, No. 7 Cape Fear 1 (29-27, 19-25, 25-21, 25-23)
Game four: No. 3 Walters State 3, No. 6 Wake Tech 1 (25-16, 25-23, 15-25, 25-22)
Semifinals (on Saturday)
No. 1 Catawba Valley 3, No. 4 Pitt 0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-18)
No. 3 Walters State 3, No. 2 Surry 0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-17)
Region X/District O championship
No. 1 Catawba Valley 3, No. 3 Walters State 0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-12)