JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After being crowned the Southeast Region Champion on Saturday, Flagler College has received the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Division II National Volleyball Tournament.
Flagler (27-3) will take on No. 5 seed Rockhurst University (31-7), the Midwest Regional champion, on Thursday at 6 p.m. (Eastern) in Pensacola, Florida.
“We are incredibly excited to have brought back the NCAA Southeast Region championship to Flagler College and we are honored that the NCAA has selected us as the No. 4 seed for the national championship,” said head coach Matt Affolder. “Although we have not played Rockhurst, I am very familiar with their outstanding program and have followed them from afar this year as they have played an incredibly tough schedule.”
The Saints dominated through play in the Southeast Regional with sweeps in the quarterfinal and final matches. Flagler is buoyed by a pair of consensus all-region players in middle hitter Sara Davis and outside hitter Taja Valmyr. Davis, the D2CCA Southeast Region Player of the Year, is sixth in the nation in hitting percentage with a .406 mark. Valmyr is 27th in D2 in attacks per set (11.59) and is 45th in total attacks (1240). Junior setter Tara Savisky ranks 35th in assists per set (10.74) and is 49th in assists.
Flagler has won 22 consecutive matches, which is the longest streak since the 2009 team won 29 in a row. That team advanced to the final four and is still the only team in the region to win a match at the national tournament. The last time the Saints advanced to the elite eight was in 2011 when they fell to Cal State-San Bernardino, who hosted the tournament.
"We're always trying to peak and trying to train to design things to always be playing our best at this time of the year," said Affolder. "Even from our training regimen and our hours in the gym, where doing everything to get ourselves ready."
Rockhurst, a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, has won 13 of its last 14 matches going into the national tournament. The Hawks won the West Division of the GLVC with a 14-4 record, but fell to national power Lewis University in the conference tournament championship match. Rockhurst got its revenge in the regional final with a 3-1 victory over No. 4 (AVCA Division II Top 25) Lewis.
“To be the champions of the Midwest Region, and to defeat Findlay and Lewis on back-to-back nights is all you need to know when it comes to their high level of play,” added Affolder. “We do have that common opponent (Findlay) so there is a little bit of connection, and we are very aware of the great players that they have. I have seen a few of them during their prep/club careers and it will be good to see them on video to get an understanding of what makes them one of the top programs in the country.”
The two teams share one common opponent – the University of Findlay. Flagler beat Findlay, on the road, 3-2, on Sept. 16. Rockhurst swept Findlay in the regional semifinals last Friday.
The schedule for the NCAA Division II National Volleyball Tournament is as follows:
Thursday, Dec. 7
No. 3 Florida Southern vs. No. 6 Cal State-San Bernardino, 1 p.m.
No. 2 Regis (Colo.) vs. No. 7 Gannon, 3:30 p.m.
No. 1 Concordia-St. Paul vs. No. 8 New Haven, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 8
Semifinals, times to be announced
Saturday, Dec. 9
Final at 6 p.m.