QU volleyball team takes business-like approach into Midwest Regional
QUINCY (WGEM) -
QUINCY (WGEM) --- The cake has been baked.
Now, it’s time to add the frosting.
After the best regular season in the history of the Quincy University program, the Hawks were rewarded Sunday with the top seed and as the host team for the NCAA Div. II Midwest Regional Volleyball Tournament Thursday through Saturday.
“It’s crazy, it’s absolutely exciting,” said redshirt senior outside hitter Mattison Norris, as the Hawks prepare to face eighth-seeded Northern Michigan at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Pepsi Arena. “On the other hand, we want to treat it just like another day. Just go to practice like we always do. Stay in our routine.
“We talked about it as a team and want to approach this in a business-like manner. We have to keep pushing. There’s just a little bit more on the line now.”
Makayla Knoblauch agrees.
“This is so special to us,” said the redshirt senior setter. “We have worked so hard for this. This wasn’t a fluke, some people just think we came out of nowhere. We have been working for years for this moment.”
Both Norris and Knoblauch cite the hard work and dedication the Hawks have shown as a team as playing a major role in this season’s success.
“Most of us spent the entire summer in Quincy working out,” Norris said. “We all had jobs so we got up at 4 a.m. and worked out. Then we would go to our jobs and work all day. Then we would come back to the gym and practice until 10. We’d do that every day. The work didn’t just start when practice began in August.”
“We didn’t like way last season ended,” Knoblauch said. “So as soon as the season ended, we were in the weight room. It also helped us to bond as a team. Even the freshmen found time to come together with us. It was a team effort.”
As far as the tournament, 64 teams were selected to chase the national championship. Eight teams were selected from eight regions: Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast and West.
Eight, eight-team regionals will be played at on-campus sites. Regional competition will be single-elimination, best three-of-five-set matches and will not include a third-place match. The winners of each of the eight regionals will advance to the finals Dec. 1-3 at the Royal Brougham Pavilion at Seattle Pacific University.
QU, which is ranked 19th in the latest AVCA Div. II poll, compiled a 27-2 record. That earned them the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament under fourth-year head coach Mark Jones.
The 27 victories came in stretches of 14 consecutive victories to open the season and then 13 more consecutive victories, which ended with a loss to Lewis University in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament semifinals.
The Hawks finished as the GLVC regular season as co-champions, sharing the honor with the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The Hawks success can be reflected by five players being recognized with GLVC postseason honors.
Middle blocker Alice Pavan was named GLVC Freshman of the Year and to the All-GLVC first team. It’s the second year in a row a QU player was selected for the newcomer of the year after Emma Wijnbergen was chosen last season.
Pavan led the conference in all matches through 93 sets with a .405 hitting percentage and was tied for third in blocks while fourth in blocks per set.
Joining Pavan on the All-GLVC first team were Norris, Knoblauch and Emma Wijnbergen. The selections for Norris and Knoblauch made them three-time All-GLVC first team selections.
Norris, who registered her 1,000th career kill against Southeastern Oklahoma State, racked up a team-high 327 kills for a hitting percentage of .266. Norris scored 364.5 points this season.
Knoblauch totaled 1,005 assists, giving her more than a 1,000 assists in a season for the second team in her career and currently sits in second all-time for assists. Knoblauch registered 10.81 assists per and was also third on the team in total blocks with 47.
Sophomore outside hitter Wijnbergen rounds out the Hawks named to the first team. She registered 300 kills for 327.5 points on the season and a .248 attack percentage.
Senior outside hitter Emily Rehagen was named to the second team after tallying 267 kills and 22 aces. Rehagen currently sits in fourth all-time for most career kills. She also registered 240 digs on the season.
The Hawks also have gotten major contributions from redshirt senior defender Kailey Reckers, senior middle blocker Alyssa Grimm, sophomore libero America Galvin, and grad transfer Brenna Ankrum, who Norris calls the team’s spiritual leader.
Win or lose, the top seed offers Norris and Knoblauch and several others one last opportunity to play at Pepsi Arena before a raucous home crowd.
“It’s so exciting to get to play one more weekend in Pepsi Arena,” Knoblauch said. “This is special.”
“It’s a blessing to get play again in a place I just love,” Norris said. “I’m blessed to get one more chance to play with my people. These are my girls. This is so special.”
It really is.
NCAA MIDWEST REGION PAIRINGS
At Pepsi Arena
- Game 1: Quincy (1) vs. Northern Michigan (8), 7:30 p.m.
- Game 2: Rockhurst (4) vs. Missouri-St. Louis (5), 5 p.m.
- Game 3: Lewis (2) vs. Hillsdale (7), noon
- Game 4: Ferris State (6) vs. Ashland (3), 2:30 p.m.
- Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 5 p.m.
- Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:30 p.m.
- Game 7: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 7:30 p.m.
More information is available at quhawks.com
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