CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University volleyball team travels to Henniker, N.H., to face New England College in the quarterfinals of the 2017 North Atlantic Conference Tournament Saturday, Oct. 28, starting at 10:30 a.m.
The Spartans enter the tournament with a 7-15 overall record after losing to Norwich Wednesday night, 3-0. Castleton finished fifth in the NAC regular season standings with a 3-4 league mark, clinching its spot in the tournament with wins over Lyndon and Johnson State last Saturday.
Senior Kimberly Jackson leads the team with 116 kills, plus she is second on the squad with 13 total blocks and third on the team with 183 digs. Junior setter Maria Jackson has been a significant contributor to the Spartan attack, collecting 262 assists, 214 digs, 64 kills, and 33 service aces.
Several newcomers have also played a major role in Castleton's gameplan this season, including Shannon Manchester, the team's defensive leader at the net with 31 total blocks to go along with 105 kills. Meghan Zawatsky has taken firm grasp of the libero position, earning 191 digs to go with a team-high 45 service aces, and Greta Hoehn, joining the team during the second week of the season, has contributed 55 kills, 44 assists, 41 service aces, 117 digs, and 10 total blocks.
New England College, in its first season of NCAA volleyball competition, put together a 12-15 overall record, including a 4-3 mark within the NAC to finish fourth in the regular season standings. The Pilgrims are coming off losses to Maine Maritime and Husson last Saturday in Bangor, Maine, but NEC is 8-2 on its home court.
Dreka Griffin leads the team with 205 kills and is second with 35 total blocks, just behind Angela Davis with 39 total blocks. Kennedy Somavia has taken over the main setting duties for the Pilgrims, accumulating 304 assists, while Kayleigh MacDougall is second on the team with 35 service aces, 160 kills, and 203 digs. Meaghan Six leads NEC with 47 service aces and 346 defensive digs.
In the first meeting between the two teams Sept. 30 in Henniker, N.H., the Pilgrims defeated the Spartans, 3-1 (20-25, 25-13, 25-11, 25-17). Jess Grace led Castleton with 18 digs, while Zawatsky contributed seven service aces and eight digs. New England College posted a .309 hitting percentage in the final three sets, led by MacDougall with 17 kills and Griffin with 12 kills on a .391 hitting percentage.
The winner of Saturday's quarterfinal heads to Castine, Maine, next weekend for the NAC Tournament semifinals, where it will face top seed and host Maine Maritime Friday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. The tournament final is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, at 11 a.m., also hosted by Maine Maritime.