Red Hawks draw No. 10 seed, face No. 7 Raiders

Red Hawks draw No. 10 seed, face No. 7 Raiders

HICKORY, N.C. — The Catawba Valley Community College volleyball team is seeded 10th heading into next week's National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II National tournament in Charleston, W.Va.

The NJCAA officially announced the pairings for the three-day tournament on Tuesday.

The 10th-seeded Red Hawks (33-9) will face seventh-seeded Grand Rapids Community College (29-6) — the Region XII/District F Champions — during the first round of the national tournament on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 11 a.m.

"We kind of figured we would fall somewhere around 9, 10 or 11 (seed)," said CVCC head volleyball coach Shannon Hudson. "It'll be fun to play again (Grand Rapids head coach) Chip (Will) first. We've played against his teams in several national tournaments. We usually see him in Ohio. It's always great competition. It should be a really good match. We are excited to get to go and face them in the national tournament this year. It'll be nice."

This is the first time that the Red Hawks have played the Warriors in the national tournament since the 2013-14 season. Grand Rapids won that contest in a five-set thriller against Catawba Valley, giving the then-Buccaneers their first loss of the season.

Both teams were also a part of the Owens Express Invitational in Perrysburg, Ohio earlier this season.

"We've played them in the past, and we did see them this year," Hudson said of the Warriors. "It's definitely something that we're going to dig into and find out a little bit more about. It should be great competition for sure."

Having played against three of the teams in the national tournament and having watched a handful of others play in tournaments they were involved in, Hudson said those experiences will prove to be beneficial next week in Charleston.

"It helps a ton just having played national championship caliber teams all year long," she said. "It's a huge advantage. It's something we started doing five or six years ago in the program. We knew we had to travel around the country a little to face these types of teams and get out of our area. It's definitely an advantage. The girls are going into the tournament knowing that they can compete with these teams."

The winner of the CVCC/GRCC match would have a likely second-round match-up with second-seeded Parkland College — a three-time national championship program that has finished in the top three or higher in the national tournament seven times in 13 trips.

Despite that potential match looming, Hudson is 100 percent focused on her team's match with Grand Rapids.

"We are definitely going to try to get past that first game first," she said. "Yeah, we will look ahead as a coaching staff especially and prepare for our next matches, but for the team we're going to focus on playing our game and doing our best. That's all we can expect them to do at this point."

As for being a No. 10 seed in a 16-team tournament, Hudson doesn't view her team as an underdog, but is looking at next week's tournament as an opportunity to grow heading into next season.

"We've got a really young team this year," Hudson said. "I think for us it's just a building block for next season. Do we have a chance to win it this year? Sure. I think any of the top teams do depending on how well you play in any given match, but I think the big advantage for us is we have most of our team coming back next year. For them to go and get the experience this year and build on that coming into next fall is a tremendous advantage."