Staff Writer: Caroline Backus and Cody Kelley
The No. 25-ranked Wingate volleyball team traveled across the country
this week to Seattle, making its sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament
national quarterfinals in program history. The Bulldogs, who led the
nation in winning percentage and ranked second in total wins at 32-3,
took on third-seeded West Texas A&M Thursday (Dec. 1) in search of
their first national title, losing a thrilling five-set match to the Buffaloes.
The Bulldogs began postseason play by overpowering six opponents
over the last two weeks. They started their playoff run with the South
Atlantic Conference Tournament, starting at Cuddy Arena with a 3-0
sweep against Limestone. Wingate capped the SAC Tournament off on
the road at the Rock Hill Sports and Event Center in Rock Hill, S.C.,
capturing a 3-1 revenge win over Anderson and dominating Carson-
Newman 3-0 to seize its 13th SAC Tournament title in 17 years.
Wingate then received the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Southeast Regional
Tournament at Cuddy Arena. The Bulldogs defeated USC Aiken 3-1 in
the first round, followed it up with a 3-1 win over Lander in the
semifinals and swept Flagler 3-0 in the championship match, winning by
scores of 25-14, 25-13 and 25-23.
While claiming the SAC Tournament title as well as the NCAA
Southeast Regional title, several Wingate players received individual
awards. The team had five players placed on All-SAC teams. Graduate
student setter Shannon Kasprak received the SAC Player of the Year
Award, while head coach Shelton Collier was nominated as SAC Coach
of the Year.
Kasprak, along with graduate student outside hitter Molly
Lambillotte and freshman middle blocker Emily Johnson, earned first-
team All-SAC honors. Senior outside hitter Maggie Young earned
second-team All-SAC honors and senior libero Maggie Mullen collected third-team accolades. Johnson also earned a spot on the All-Freshman
Three Bulldogs received All-Region honors as well. Kasprak added
another big honor to her arsenal by being named the Division II
Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) Southeast Region
Player of the Year. Kasprak was also a first-team All-Region selection,
joined by Johnson. Lambillotte picked up second-team All-Region
accolades as well.
Wingate lit up the stat sheet throughout the season, ranking high
nationally in several categories. As of Nov. 19, the team ranked first in
winning percentage (.939), second in opponents’ hitting percentage
(.095), fourth in blocks per set (2.56), fifth in hitting percentage (.283)
and ninth in total blocks (276.5).