ONE FOR THE THUMB: Women's Volleyball Captures Fifth Straight MAC Commonwealth Title

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Tournament Most Valuable Player Annika Schwartz totaled 13 kills, 15 digs and six blocks as top-seeded Stevenson University captured its fifth straight MAC Commonwealth women's volleyball championship with a 3-2 win over second-seeded Messiah College at Owings Mills Gymnasium Saturday evening.

The set scores were 24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 17-25, 15-9.

With the win, Stevenson (26-7) earns the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship that begins next weekend, the sixth-straight NCAA appearance for the Mustangs.  The NCAA selection show is set for Monday, November 7 at 12:30 pm Eastern on NCAA.com.  The win also extended Stevenson's win streak to 17 matches.

Messiah (26-8) finishes runner-up to Stevenson for the fifth straight season. 

Schwartz, who is the Championship MVP for the second straight season, finished with her 13th double-double of the season.  She totaled four kills and three blocks in the deciding fifth set.  Senior Kristen Brooks added 10 kills and nine digs, while junior Lauren Weaver added nine.  Freshman Victoria Prokic notched five kills and five blocks.  Junior Deanna Bradbury notched 24 digs, while freshman Julie Nightwine had 11 to go along with her 20 assists.  Senior Sara Bollinger also had 20 assists.

Kristen Douglas led Messiah with 14 kills, while Braedyn Gallagher and Jane Underman each finished with 10.

The fifth set was tied 6-6 before four straight Stevenson points capped by a big block by Schwartz gave the Mustangs a 10-6 lead and forced Messiah to call its second timeout.  A Douglas kill stopped the run, but back-to-back kills by Weaver and Schwartz extended the lead to 12-7.  After a Stevenson service error, a Schwartz kill and an attack error made it 14-8.  After another service error, a Schwartz kill closed out the match.

Stevenson led 10-5 in the first set before a 7-2 Messiah spurt tied the set 12-12.  From there, the set featured five ties.  Stevenson trailed 23-20 and 24-22, but a Brooks kill tied the set 24-24 before kills from Gallagher and Mary Underman gave Messiah a 26-24 win and an early 1-0 lead.

The second set saw five ties before four straight Mustang points, three coming on Messiah errors, gave Stevenson a 21-17 lead.  The Falcons cut the lead to 22-20 but a Schwartz kill and a block by Prokic and sophomore Moriah Savage made it 24-20, and an attack error closed it out. 

Stevenson built a 19-9 lead in the third set before Messiah roared back to pull within four, 21-17, before four straight points, capped by a kill by sophomore Chelsea Ireland, gave the Mustangs a 2-1 lead.  Messiah trailed twice early on in the fourth set but built an early 9-4 lead and held the Mustangs at bay as they tried several times to get back in the set.

Stevenson hit .188 for the match while limiting Messiah to .118 hitting.  The Mustangs did have 12 total blocks compared to three for the Falcons.

Women's Volleyball MAC Commonwealth Championship Postgame Interview with Dave Trumbo
Nov 5, 2016