A web cast will be available for No. 8 seed Nebraska Wesleyan’s match vs. No. 1 seed Washington (Mo.) University at 8:30 on Thursday night.
Nebraska Wesleyan is making its third NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship appearance in a row under Head Coach Gina Chambers and 10th in team history. The Prairie Wolves have received a bid in five of the last six years and eight of the last 11. NWU made its first NCAA appearance in 1982 and advanced the farthest in 1998, losing 3-1 to Central College in the third round.
In the first round of the NCAA Div. III tournament last year, the Prairie Wolves pushed then-ranked College of St. Benedict to five games and held match point three times in the fourth set before falling to the Blazers, 28-30, 30-23, 25-30, 32-30, 15-10.
Other NCAA tournament notes:
• NWU middle blocker Amy Vanderkolk (Sr., Malcolm, Neb., Malcolm High School) is up for All-GPAC honors for the third year in a row, despite being the shortest middle blocker in the conference at 5-foot-8. She leads the team in kills (303), kills per game (3.06), hitting percentage (.236), total blocks (118)and blocks per game (1.19). She has also earned multiple All-America honors in the sprint hurdles for the Nebraska Wesleyan track team and has already been accepted to physical therapy school.
• Vanderkolk was named MVP of the All-Tournament Team as NWU went undefeated at the Colorado College’s 2006 Molten Spike It Up Classic in mid-October. The Prairie Wolves are 1-1 against teams in the NCAA Division III Championship field this year, having defeated 23-10 Colorado College, 3-2, and having lost to 26-10 Simpson College, 3-0, back in September.
• NWU libero Linsey Thomsen (Jr., Beatrice, Neb., Beatrice High School) is already the Nebraska Wesleyan career leader in digs with 2,056 (an average of 6.85 per game over the last three seasons). Her 793 digs this year have far surpassed the NWU single-season record for digs established by Thomsen last year as a sophomore (673).
• NWU is the only NCAA Division III institution in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, a 13-team league affiliated with the NAIA. The Prairie Wolves finished 14-14 overall, but made the tournament as a result of their 8-3 record vs. Div. III in-region opponents.
•Coach Chambers, then Gina Duensing, earned four letters and was a four-year starter and All-Conference honoree as a Nebraska Wesleyan volleyball player from 1992-95. She was also a three-year letter winner and All-Conference selection in women’s basketball before she graduated in 1997 with a degree in biopsychology. Her overall head coaching record entering the 2006 NCAA tournament is 44-42. Earlier this season, Chambers gave birth to her third daughter on Sunday, Sept. 24 and was back on the court coaching on Friday night, Sept. 29.