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Championship Programs Highlight 2011 NJCAA DI Volleyball Tournament Bracket

November 15, 2011

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 16 best teams in NJCAA Division I Volleyball are on their way to West Plains, Mo., to battle it out for this year’s national championship trophy. This year’s tournament bracket is filled with tremendous talent from around the nation. In fact volleyball programs that have won every Division I national championship since 1996 will participate in this year’s tournament(College of Southern Idaho, Miami-Dade College, Barton County Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Western Nebraska Community College and Blinn College). 

Fans can follow the action through a variety of outlets. Live video of all 27 matches will be available on NJCAA TV (www.njcaatv.ihigh.com) thanks to Panhandle Sports Broadcasting. 

Scores, updates and additional information on the tournament can be found on the official tournament website, www.njcaavbd1.com and on the NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship webpage

Here is a quick glance at this year’s tournament qualifiers (complete game schedule is available here)…

DISTRICT A – Champions of District A, College of Southern Idaho is going to the national tournament following a three-set sweep of No. 5 North Idaho College. The 22-10 Golden Eagles return to the tournament after falling in five sets in last season’s district tournament. Sophomore Taylor Wilkinson provides Southern Idaho with a valued presence in the middle, averaging a team-high 1.2 blocks per set this season. Seeded No. 5 in the tournament, Southern Idaho will face-off against No. 12-seeded Mineral Area College (Mo.) in the first round.

DISTRICT B – Despite falling in the Region 18 championship, North Idaho College is returning to the national tournament after last season’s fifth-place finish. Freshman middle blocker Yang Yang has led the Cardinals to a 20-8 record this season. Yang ranks third in Division I in kills, averaging 4.24 per set in 2011. The No.7-seeded Cardinals are slated to play No. 10-seeded Central Florida State College in the first round.

DISTRICT C – After going 1-2 in last season’s national tournament, Eastern Arizona College is returning to the big stage as the champions of District C. The Gila Monsters clinched the title with a sweeping victory over Seminole State College (Okla.), improving to 28-3 on the season. Eastern Arizona’s front line is led by sophomore middle blocker Jessica Johnson who is averaging 1.1 blocks per set in 2011. Entering the tournament as a No. 8-seed, the Gila Monsters first round opponent will be No. 9-seeded Miami Dade College (Fla.).

DISTRICT D – Iowa Western Community College cruised to a three-set sweep over Indian Hills CC (Iowa) in the District D championship, claiming a spot in the national tournament. At 41-7, the Reivers are one of only three qualifying teams with at least 40 wins this season.  Defensively, Iowa Western relies on freshman libero Dayana Acevedo. The Puerto Rico-native is averaging 5.2 digs per set this season. Making their ninth appearance in the national tournament, the No. 6-seeded Reivers will face No. 11-seeded Temple College (Texas) in the first round.

DISTRICT E – Making their first ever trip to the national tournament, Western Texas College enters as the champions of District E. The Westerners swept Midland College (Texas) in the district championship to improve to 21-12 on the season. Sophomore setter Peyton Evans leads a strong front line for Western Texas. Evans is the Division I-leader in blocks this season, averaging 1.5 per set. In the program’s first national tournament match, the No. 15-seeded Westerners are scheduled to play No. 2-seed Western Nebraska CC.

DISTRICT F – Overcoming three-straight losses to end the regular season, Temple College (Texas) stepped up in the District F tournament and booked their first trip to the national tournament since 2007. The Leopards improved their record to 22-18, defeating North Central Texas 15-13 in the fifth set of the district championship match. Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Pickett heads the Temple attack with a team-high 3.5 kills per set in 2011. In the first round, the No. 11-seeded Leopards will battle No. 6-seed Iowa Western CC. 

DISTRICT G – Miami Dade College completed a three-set sweep of Polk State College (Fla.) to clinch the District G title and a seat in the national tournament. On the wrong end of a first round sweep in last season’s tournament, the Sharks are motivated to make a deep run this time around. Led by sophomore middle blocker Marifranchi Rodriguez, Miami Dade boasts a 23-4 record this season. Averaging 5.11 kills per set this season, Rodriguez is the nation’s leading-scorer in Division I. The No. 9-seeded Sharks first round opponent will be No. 8-seeded Eastern Arizona College.

DISTRICT H – With a three-set sweep of Hillsborough CC (Fla.) in the District H championship, College of Central Florida locked up their first ever qualification for the national tournament. Winning 15 of their last 16 matches, the Patriots come in with a 41-6 record this season. Central Florida’s balanced attack is highlighted by freshman Vanessa Benke and sophomore Christine Pinder. Both outside hitters are averaging over 3.6 kills per set in 2011. No. 7-seed North Idaho College will be the No. 10-seeded Patriots’ opponent in the program’s first ever national tournament match.

DISTRICT I – Western Wyoming Community College is advancing to the national tournament for the second-consecutive season and fifth time in program history as the champions of District I. The Mustangs defeated Central Wyoming in three sets for the district title. Western Wyoming is 36-2 this season and hasn’t lost a match since late September. Sophomore setter Makayla Keck directs the Mustang offense, ranking second in Division I with 11.04 assists per set this season. Looking to build off last season’s third-place finish, No. 3-seed Western Wyoming has No. 14-seeded Barton CCC (Kan.) in the first round.

DISTRICT J – In the District J championship, Western Nebraska Community College completed a 3-0 sweep of Northeastern JC (Colo.) for their 13th-consecutive trip to the national tournament. The defending national champions are 38-1 this season, sweeping their opponents in 35 matches. Sophomore outside hitter Debora Araujo leads the Cougars offensively, averaging 3.7 kills per set in 2011. The No. 2-seeded Cougars will begin their title defense against No. 15-seed Western Texas College in the first round.

DISTRICT K – The only team in Division I sporting an undefeated record, Blinn College (Texas) at 34-0 returns to the national tournament after sweeping Panola College (Texas) for the District K title. The Buccaneers finished seventh in last season’s tournament, but have championship on their mind this time around. Sophomore setter Jackie Gerig has 11.03 assists per set this season, third most in Division I. Top-seeded Blinn will match-up with No. 16-seed Gadsden State CC (Ala.) in the first round.

DISTRICT L – Sealing their seventh-straight appearance in the national tournament, San Jacinto College (Texas) swept Laredo CC (Texas) for the District L crown. The Ravens enter the tournament on a 12-match winning streak and a 28-3 record this season. Freshman middle blocker Marlaina Pleydle ranks fourth in Division I in blocks, averaging 10.8 per set in 2011. No. 4-seed San Jacinto is looking ahead to their first round match against No. 13-seeded Wallace State CC-Hanceville (Ala.).

DISTRICT M – Qualifying for the 22nd national tournament in program history, Barton County Community College(Kan.) beat Seward CCC (Kan.) in four sets for the District M championship. The Cougars have a 28-12 record and are led by freshman middle blocker Paula da Silva who is averaging 4.0 kills per set this season. Coming off a disappointing performance in last season’s tournament, No. 14-seeded Barton will challenge No. 3-seed Western Wyoming CC in the first round.

DISTRICT N – Mineral Area College (Mo.) will make their national tournament debut after winning the District N title with a sweep of Jefferson College (Mo.). With a 33-5 record, the Cardinals come into the tournament having won 11 of their last 12 matches of the season. Defensively, Mineral Area has benefited from the tenacious play of sophomore Brooke Williams. The libero is averaging 5.5 digs per set in 2011. No. 5-seeded College of Southern Idaho awaits the No. 12-seeded Cardinals in their program’s first ever match in the national tournament.

DISTRICT O – Capping off a 41-3 season with a sweep of Gadsden State CC (Ala.), Wallace State Community College-Hanceville (Ala.) is going to the national tournament for the 12th time in school history. The Lions feature one of the best servers in the tournament in freshman setter Brooke Beasley. Leading the team with 0.8 aces per set, Beasley also manages the Lions’ attack with 8.9 assists per set this season. After suffering a loss to eventual champion Western Nebraska in the first round of last season’s tournament, the No. 13-seeded Lions will look for better results against No. 4-seed San Jacinto College (Texas) in this year’s first round.

DISTRICT P – Although Gadsden State Community College (Ala.) endured a three set sweep in their last match, the Cardinals are returning to the national tournament for the third time in school history. Directing Gadsden State to a 32-8 record this season, freshman setter Peri Bryant is averaging 9.0 assists per set. The No. 16-seeded Cardinals will try to earn their second ever victory in the national tournament when they go head-to-head with top-seeded Blinn College (Texas) in the first round.

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