JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/17/2008 - Last Tuesday, the Union University volleyball team captured the 2008 TranSouth Conference Title, earning the Lady Bulldogs an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament. The conference title gives Union their second trip (2004, 2008) to the national tournament since the program’s beginning in 1998.
In the 11-year history Union volleyball, the Lady Bulldogs have captured three TranSouth Tournament titles (1999, 2004, 2008) and three regular season titles (1999, 2000, 2004).
Union will travel to NAIA No. 17 Vanguard (Calif.) University for their first match in the 2008 NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round on Saturday, November 22. Winner of each opening round match will advance to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa. The tournament will be held at the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena from Dec. 2-6, 2008 in Sioux City.
The final 24 teams are placed into six pools and will play a round robin pool play Dec. 2-4. The top two teams from each pool will advance to the single elimination bracket, which begins Friday, Dec. 5 and will end with the championship match on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. (CST).
Comments from Union Head Coach Steven Gream…
On the feeling of his team after winning the TranSouth Tournament and qualifying for the program's second national tournament appearance… “We are all very excited. We were close to qualifying for nationals last season and now have taken the next step and have earned a spot. It is a great opportunity to play a top-notch program like Vanguard (Calif.), but is also a nice trip that the girls can enjoy.”
On the activities of his team between clinching a spot and playing their opening round match… “We finished our conference tournament early (Tuesday, Nov. 11) and that allowed us to rest our players and tend to some minor injuries and sickness. We have stayed fresh by continuing to participate in simple drills and starting this week, we will go full throttle with practice through the rest of the week.
On the idea of carrying the torch a conference that is not a volleyball power in the NAIA and how his success against a first round opponent from a league with six representatives will have on future national rankings… “In a way, we are carrying the torch for TranSouth Conference volleyball teams. However, we want to represent the TranSouth well, whether it is getting us respect or not. We are the TranSouth representative as the tournament champion and we want to do well against teams and conferences that we normally do not get the opportunity to play during the season. The Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) is an NAIA volleyball power and Vanguard is a great team. We look forward to seeing how we measure up.”
Sisters from Jackson (Trinity Christian Academy) playing in national tournament
Amanda Hutchison Coyle and Christa Hutchison are both former volleyball standouts at Trinity Christian Academy here in Jackson, Tenn. Coyle, is a senior at Union University, while Christa is in her freshman season at Lee (Tenn.) University in Chattanooga. Both sisters will be participating in the 2008 NAIA Volleyball National Championships. Union and Amanda travel to California to play Vanguard (Calif.) University. Christa and Lee University will travel to Canton, Ohio to play Walsh (Ohio) University.
Amanda and Christa are the daughters of Keith and Julie Hutchison of Jackson, Tenn.
Amanda has recently moved into second place on Union’s all-time career kills list. She currently sits at 1,796 career kills entering the national tournament. Coyle leads Union this season with 385 kills and is also first with a .362 hitting percentage. She was named TranSouth All-Conference for the fourth time in her career.
Christa is fifth on Lee’s team with 218 kills and is fourth with 1.8 kills per game. She also ranks third on her team with 37 service aces.
Both Union and Lee are receiving votes in the final NAIA volleyball rankings.
California is a trip home for three Union players
Union University’s trip to California for the 2008 NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round will be new experience for many of the Lady Bulldog players. However, for three Union girls, it will be a trip back home. Seniors CJ Neathamer and Emili Ogas are from Anderson and Porterville, Calif. respectively. Also, junior setter Katie Adams is from Orange, Calif., which is just a few minutes from Union’s opening round site of Irvine, Calif.
Union volleyball making second national tournament appearance in program history
Union’s volleyball program began in 1998 and during that time, Union has captured three TranSouth regular season titles, three TranSouth Tournament titles, and one region tournament title. The region tournament title in 2004 sent Union to their only previous NAIA National Tournament.
In 2004, Union posted a 2-2 record in pool play. Union defeated Savannah (Ga.) College of Art & Design 3-1, and defeated Houston (Texas) Baptist University 3-1. Union lost to two-time national champion Columbia (Mo.) College 3-1, and also lost to the eventual national champion in 2004, California Baptist University 3-0. Cal Baptist went on to win two straight national titles (2004, 2005).
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