For the first time in school history, the Cedarville Yellow Jacket volleyball team made an appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
Cedarville won the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) tournament to secure their bid in the national tournament. The number one seed yellow jackets started off with a 3-0 win over Malone in the second round after their first-round bye. Cedarville won the sets 25-14, 25-22, and 25-17. Abby Shelton lead the team with 18 kills and 11 digs and Kristen Cardwell added 35 assists.
The final match against Davis & Elkins was much more difficult for Cedarville. They only defeated the Senators 3-2. Cedarville took the first set 25-14, but D&E fought back with a 33-31 set to tie the match at one. Cedarville took the third set 25-17, but lost the fourth set to D&E 25-22. Cedarville won the fifth set and the tournament with a 15-8 win. Gabby Olson lead the Yellow Jackets with 19 kills and also added four blocks. Taylor Wilkerson had 16 kills and a team best six blocks. Kristen Cardwell also added 59 assists.
Cedarville was in the G-MAC conference championship last year as well, but lost 3-0 to Trevecca, a team they beat both times in the regular season. Cedarville head coach Doug Walters said they were determined to fix the mistakes they made last year.
“I cannot even begin to express how proud I am of our team today,” Walters said. “After the result from one year ago, this team had a focus and a mission this year that all started with off-season training in January. They were very determined not to make the same mistakes as last season and finish the job in the G-MAC Tournament.”
The Yellow Jackets entered the tournament as the seven seed. Their first matchup was against Findlay, a team they had played twice in the regular season and split 3-1 wins. This was a very hard-fought match that ended with a 3-2 Cedarville victory. The scores for the sets were 25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-20, and 15-10. Shelton lead the way with 15 kills and Krissy Pratt added 14. Wilkerson also had 14 kills and six blocks. Cardwell racked up 48 assists.
Cedarville’s next matchup was against Lewis, who was the number three seed. This game ended with Lewis sweeping the Yellow Jackets 3-0 by scores of 25-16, 25-14, and 25-13. Olson ended up leading the Yellow Jackets in kills with nine and added a block. Coach Walters said their team was out of gas after the Findlay matchup.
“Yesterday against Findlay was a battle and it was emotional,” Walters said. “I think it drained us a little bit. We weren’t on our game and Lewis played like one of the Top 25 teams in the country. So, give credit to them. I thought they played really well.”
Walters went on to say that he is proud of the way the team played this season.
“”This has been a great year,” Walters said. “We had a mission to get here, but our goal at the beginning of the year wasn’t just to make it in. We wanted to make some noise once we got here.”
Josh Burris is a senior journalism major and the sports editor for Cedars. He is interested in sports broadcasting and reporting. He enjoys watching sports, lifting, and listening to rock and rap music.