VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – For a third straight year, the finals of the USCAA Volleyball National Championship tournament came down to Florida College and St. Mary of the Woods College. In another five-set thriller, the Falcons of Florida College prevailed to secure their fourth straight USCAA Volleyball National Championship (23-25, 25-22, 25-20, 23-25, 15-12).
There were plenty of parallels from the 2016 tournament. St. Mary of the Woods College dominated pool play (4-0), which included a victory in three sets over Florida College on Friday. The Pomeroys handled University of Maine-Fort Kent, a surprise semifinalist coming into the tournament seeded ninth, in morning action on Saturday to advance to the National Championship game. Meanwhile, Florida College faced top-seeded Florida National University in the semis and advanced in a straight-set victory.
In the championship game, the Pomeroys took a close first set after a couple untimely attack errors by the Falcons and two late kills from McKenzi Kumpf. In the second set the Pomeroys led 17-12 before the Falcons began their comeback, led by strong play from Abigail Hodges and Baylee Gunter. Florida College would eventually take the second set and get off to a 5-0 start in the third. That lead would stretch to 10-3 after an ace from Victoria Trueheart, and kills from Rachel Tharp, Hodges, and Gunter. The Pomeroys would drop the set, but would rebound in the fourth. Impressive defensive play from Pamela Dorman, 5 kills from McKenzi Kumpf, and a streak of errors from the Falcons set up the showdown in the fifth.
The final set was all Pomeroys in the early going, getting three kills from Monica Mack to take an 8-4 advantage. The Falcons would battle back, scoring four straight points on an attack error and kills from Rachel Tharp, Merritt Smith, and Trueheart. The teams would go back and forth until 11, but Florida College closed out on a 4-1 run highlighted by two kills from Tharp.
With 22 kills and 23 digs in the championship game, along with another stellar all-around performance throughout the championship, Rachel Tharp took home Tournament MVP honors for a second-straight year. Joining her on the All-Tournament Team from Florida College was Baylee Gunter (60 assists in championship) and Victoria Trueheart. Hodges was a key contributor as well, with 16 points in the championship game. Elisa Lemorond added 37 digs. St. Mary of the Woods received outstanding performances throughout the tournament from Mack, Kumpf, and Gabriella Slagle. Meagan White had 11 points in the championship game, Dorman had 37 digs, and Katelyn Cotter had 42 assists.
Florida National University defeated University of Maine-Fort Kent in the third place game, receiving a strong performance from Thalia Torres and Silvia Galeano. It’s the second straight third-place finish for the Conquistadors. For full results from the 2017 USCAA Volleyball National Championship please go to www.uscaafallchampionships.com.
2017 USCAA Volleyball National Championship All-Tournament Team
Adrianna Gutierrez – University of Maine-Fort Kent
Silvia Galeano – Florida National University
McKenzi Kumpf – St. Mary of the Woods College
Monica Mack – St. Mary of the Woods College
Baylee Gunter – Florida College
Victoria Trueheart – Florida College
Rachel Tharp – Florida College