PERRYSBURG TOWNSHIP, OH – Owens Community College’s volleyball program is one step away from being crowned national champions after winning its respective regional (District D) tournament. As a result of their postseason success, the Express women’s volleyball team will now advance to the NJCAA Division II National Championships, Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 18-20. The tournament will take place in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
This marks Owens’ second trip to the NJCAA Division II national championship tournament. Additionally, the Express participated in five Division III national championship tournaments and finished third in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
“We knew coming into this year we had a good recruiting class and the team as a collective group worked hard throughout the year to get to this point,” said Owens Express Head Coach Sonny Lewis. “This has been a goal, making it to nationals. A lot of our matches were close and the team did what they needed to do to win matches.”
The Express earned their trip to the nationals by winning in the NJCAA Region XII Championships at Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Owens defeated Oakland Community College (23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-17) in the championship match to advance to the national tournament.
The volleyball program’s overall record now stands at 41-7 and the team has not lost since Sept. 25 when fellow national tournament qualifier Kirkwood Community College defeated the Express in four games at the Parkland Invitational.
Additionally this year, the Express women’s volleyball team captured the OCCAC regular season championship with a victory over Cuyahoga Community College (25-11, 25-5, 25-8) on Oct. 30. Owens has won 10 out of the last 11 OCCAC regular season championships. Lewis’ squad finished 11-1 in the OCCAC regular season standings and is ranked No. 11 in the final NJCAA Division II volleyball regular season poll. The Express also is currently on a 26-match winning streak.
Owens’ will play Illinois Central College in their first match of the double elimination consolation national tournament at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18. If they would advance, the Express will play the winner of the Johnson County Community College/Hagerstown Community College at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The championship match will occur at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20.
The 16 teams competing in the national tournament include Iowa Lakes Community College (37-7), Johnson County Community College (27-5), Cowley County Community College (31-3), East Central College (36-7), Parkland College (39-10), Kishwaukee College (40-10), Illinois Central College (31-8), Grand Rapids Community College (35-2), Pasco-Hernando Community College (32-7), Owens Community College (41-7), North Platte Community College (31-9), Glendale Community College (22-14), Kirkwood Community College (30-11), Moraine Valley Community College (34-6), Hagerstown Community College (26-7) and Genesee Community College (38-8).
The Express went 3-4 against six teams that qualified for the national tournament during the regular season. They defeated Moraine Valley and Parkland College, split with Kirkwood and lost to Kishwaukee, Grand Rapids and Illinois Central.
Owens played one invitational tournament at the national tournament site in mid-October and went 7-0 including wins against Moraine Valley and Kirkwood.
“We play a tough schedule every year. Our schedule has a lot of teams that are listed in the Top 20,” Lewis said. “It only makes our team better at the end of the year.”
Express volleyball team members include Shelby Schuster of Sylvania, outside hitter/setter (35 kills, 218 digs, 716 assists, 57 aces and 5 blocks) (Sylvania Southview H.S.); Jessica Knueve of Kalida, outside hitter/defensive specialist (104 kills, 41 digs, 18 assists, 4 aces and 50 blocks) (Kalida H.S.); Alyssa Wielfaert of Toledo, defensive specialist (3 kills, 162 digs, 2 assists and 8 aces) (Start H.S.); Amanda Schuster of Sylvania, middle blocker/outside hitter (23 kills, 7 digs, 5 assists, 3 aces and 10 blocks) (Sylvania Southview H.S.); Lauren Lind of Millbury, outside hitter (101 kills, 40 digs, 13 assists, 1 ace and 32 blocks) (Lake H.S.); Alyssa LaVoy of Pemberville, defensive specialist (50 digs and 2 aces) (Eastwood H.S.); Erin Schatzle of Monroe, Mich., setter/outside hitter (191 kills, 294 digs, 876 assists, 45 aces and 51 blocks) (Monroe H.S.); Alyssa Pelish of Toledo, defensive specialist (2 kills, 234 digs, 5 assists and 22 aces) (Toledo Central Catholic H.S.); Ellie Comes of Toledo, defensive specialist (13 kills, 839 digs, 13 assists and 41 aces) (Sylvania Southview H.S.); Ashley Horak of Bowling Green, outside hitter (336 kills, 149 digs, 8 assists, 66 aces and 76 blocks) (Bowling Green H.S.); Julia Haupricht of Toledo, outside hitter/middle blocker (245 kills, 34 digs, 11 assists, 9 aces and 92 blocks) (Toledo Central Catholic H.S.); Allie McAfee of Ypsilanti, Mich., middle blocker (239 kills, 56 digs, 9 assists, 4 aces and 92 blocks) (Milan H.S.); Allison Seifker of Norwalk, outside hitter (228 kills, 49 digs, 28 assists, 3 aces and 67 blocks) (Monroeville H.S.): and Brittany Egbert of Fostoria, middle blocker (479 kills, 266 digs, 39 assists, 80 aces and 148 blocks) (Hopewell-Loudon H.S.).
Owens Community College is a fully accredited two-year, state-assisted institution of higher education that has served Northwest Ohio since 1965. With a commitment to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability, the College serves the diverse academic needs of credit and non-credit students on the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses. Owens offers associate degrees that transfer to baccalaureate degrees in the Arts and Sciences and over 130 technical program areas in Agriculture, Business, Health Sciences, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Skilled Trades, and Engineering and Transportation Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor’s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university. For more information, visit www.owens.edu.