HICKORY, N.C. — The fifth-ranked Catawba Valley Community College volleyball team clinched a return trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) DII Volleyball National Tournament on Saturday, claiming the Southeast District championship with a 3-0 sweep against Region 7 champion Walters State at the Tarlton Complex.
The Red Hawks (33-4) now advance to the national tournament, which takes place Nov. 21-23 in Charleston, W.Va.
For the first time in recent history, the two region champions — CVCC (Region 10) and Walters State (Region 7) — would face off in a one-game playoff with the national tournament bid on the line. Last year, Walters State entered the Region 10 tournament and lost to Catawba Valley in the championship game.
Needing to beat Walters State for the fourth time this season, the Red Hawks entered the Southeast District title match at a little bit of a disadvantage without some of their primary players, including Region 10 Player of the Year Emma Clark, second team all-region performer Meredith Patterson and defensive specialist Abagail Gordon — all who were out with injuries.
However, the Red Hawks banded together, responding by defeating Walters State in straight sets — 25-17, 25-15 and 25-13. Aasia McNeill led Red Hawk hitters with 11 kills, while Sage Harrington added nine kills and hit .467. McNeil, Harrington and Hanne Cooke each added four blocks, and setter Macy Pope led the team with 12 assists.
The Red Hawks head to the national tournament for the second-straight year on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Tournament play opens on Thursday, Nov. 21. The NJCAA will announce seeding later this week. Catawba Valley was ranked fifth in the final national poll of the season.