OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Championship Most Valuable Player Lauren Weaver totaled 15 kills on .282 hitting as 15th-ranked and top-seeded Stevenson University claimed its sixth consecutive MAC Commonwealth women's volleyball championship with a 3-1 win over second-seeded Arcadia University Saturday afternoon at Owings Mills Gymnasium.
With the win, Stevenson (32-1) earns an automatic berth to next week's NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship, where it will make its seventh straight appearance. The Mustangs, who are ranked No. 2 in the Mid-Atlantic Region, will learn their NCAA opponent and destination on Monday at 12:30 pm when the NCAA airs the tournament's selection show on NCAA.com.
The Mustangs also won their 20th straight match and their 23rd in a row at Owings Mills Gymnasium.
Arcadia (23-11) was making its first-ever MAC Commonwealth Women's Volleyball Championship appearance. The Knights had won nine of 10 entering Saturday's match.
The first set was tied 20-20 when three straight Stevenson points, capped by a service ace by senior Annika Schwartz, put the Mustangs up 23-20. Arcadia answered by recording the next three points to forge a 23-23 tie, the eighth of the set, forcing Stevenson to call timeout. The Knights were whistled for a ball-handling error to put the hosts up 24-23, and an attack error put the Mustangs up 1-0 with the 25-23 win.
Stevenson controlled the second set 16-14 when Arcadia reeled off six straight points to go up 21-16 on a Shannon Ryan kill. A Schwartz kill stopped the run, but the Knights responded with a kill of their own. Stevenson was down 24-19 when a service error and a Schwartz kill forced Arcadia to call timeout, but coming out of the break, a Stevenson attack error evened things up.
In the third set, Arcadia held an 18-15 lead before three straight points capped by a Schwartz block tied things up. With the set tied 19-19, the ninth tie of the set, the Mustangs recorded five straight points to go up 24-19 on a block by Schwartz and sophomore Victoria Prokic. A Mustang attack error gave serve back to the Knights, but an Arcadia error closed out the third frame.
Arcadia led the fourth set 19-17 before four straight Mustang points gave the hosts a 21-19 lead and forced the Knights to call timeout following a Schwartz kill. Coming out of the timeout, an Arcadia attack error increased the lead to 22-20. The guests stopped the run with a kill, but a ball-handling error by Arcadia put Stevenson up 23-20 and forced the Knights to use their second timeout. Kills by juniors Chelsea Ireland and Moriah Savage closed out the match.
Weaver's 15 kills were a season high and the most for her in a match since posting 15 as a sophomore in a five-set win over Salisbury. Schwartz notched 16 kills, 18 digs, five blocks and a pair of service aces, while Savage tallied 10 kills. Sophomore Katie Leftridge added eight kills, 12 digs and four blocks, while Prokic finished with six kills and six blocks. Sophomore Caroline Dangel handed out 28 assists and registered nine digs, while classmate Julie Nightwine had 24 assists and 13 digs. Senior Deanna Bradbury notched 23 digs.
Lizzie Joseph led Arcadia with 16 kills and 20 digs, while Ryan added 12 kills.
Stevenson hit .198 as a team while Arcadia hit .153, but just .081 over the final two sets. The Mustangs totaled 10 blocks while Arcadia finished with eight.
Championship MVP Lauren Weaver with head coach Dave Trumbo and MAC Executive Director Ken Andrews