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Cal U ready for NCAA volleyball tournament

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

California University's women's volleyball team will meet Shippensburg in the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament Thursday at Wheeling Jesuit University.

The Vulcans (28-7) will carry the No. 3 seed into the eight-team field with Shippensburg (27-11) sixth. The match begins at noon and will be the first of four first round matches Thursday.

At 2:30 p.m., No. 2 Gannon (28-5) takes on No. 7 Mercyhurst (25-10) with No. 4 Clarion (23-11) battling No. 5 Lock Haven (26-10) at 5 p.m. Top-seeded Wheeling Jesuit (32-2) opposes No. 8 Fayetteville State (28-5) in the 7:30 p.m. nightcap.

The semifinals are slated for Friday with the championship at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Vulcans will be making their eighth consecutive appearance in the tournament and the 12th overall in the school's history.

Cal U has had great success in the Atlantic Regional, reaching the championship game in each of the past six seasons and winning the title three times (2007-09).

Coach Peter Letourneau's team has won five of its last six matches, with the only loss coming to Lock Haven in the semifinals of the PSAC Tournament.

Cal U proved to be one of the most complete teams in the PSAC, ranking first (10th nationally) in hitting percentage (.267) while finishing second in the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.117), assists (11.84/sets), kills (12.88/set) and blocks (279).

Senior Brandy Harris leads the Vulcans and ranks fifth in the conference with 370 kills (3.08/set) and 418 points. Fellow senior Megan Franz finished second on the team with 267 kills while leading the conference and ranking among the national leaders with a .383 hitting percentage.

Junior Molly Delaney leads the Vulcans with 466 digs and classmate Abbey Fruend paces Cal U with 743 assists.

Senior Kelly Fromknecht ranks among the team leaders in kills (264), assists (586), digs (229) and blocks (101) while ranking fifth in the conference with a .299 hitting percentage.

The Vulcans led the conference with three All-PSAC West First Team selections.

Making its second NCAA Tourney appearance, Shippensburg has posted the second-most wins in school history with 27 this year. The Red Raiders won 14 of 19 conference matches and defeated Cal U for the first time since 1996.

Led by 2012 PSAC West Freshman of the Year Taylor Gottshall, Shippensburg boasts one of the best defenses in the PSAC. The Red Raiders lead the conference and rank 16th nationally with 2.36 blocks/set. Gottshall ranks among the national leaders with 1.2 blocks/set while junior Lauren Murphy leads the team with 508 digs.

Sophomore Jill Edwards leads the Red Raiders and ranks fourth in the conference with 449 kills and senior Andrea Heimsoth paces the team with 1185 assists.

Wheeling Jesuit, the regional favorite, will be making its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals are ranked 18th nationally and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals last year where they lost to Hillsdale (Mich.), 3-0.

This year marks the first time in program history that Wheeling Jesuit will host the NCAA Tournament.

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