Friday, November 9, 2018 - 2:00pm
For the first time in program history, the Mercyhurst North East Saints volleyball team is heading to nationals.
They will compete at the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship Nov. 15-17 in Charleston, W.Va.
The lady Saints were named 16th seed for nationals, filling out the bracket with teams from Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Kansas and Virginia.
The honor caps off an outstanding season for the all-freshman squad that finished 17-8.
The team includes three standouts from the Erie area – Rachel Brenner of Corry, Erin Froehlich of West Springfield and Rebecca Winkelman of Waterford – as well as Lily Hadly of Philadelphia, Leah Manley of Toledo, Ohio, Paige Morehouse of Strongsville, Ohio, Emily Smith of Eldred, Pa., Makayla Thompson of Holt, Mich., and Alexis White of Cleveland.
Three players along with Coach Pacholke also received conference honors. Brenner, Smith, and Froehlich were selected all WNYAC. Coach Pacholke was selected Coach of the Year 2018.
“This is an exciting time for Mercyhurst North East volleyball,” said Coach Pacholke, who played for MNE herself, graduating in 2006.
"A goal of ours this year was to just qualify for the district tournament,” she said. “When we were approaching the district championship, I was not sure how to handle it. You dream of it for so long, for it to actually be happening was very emotional for me. I kept telling the girls 'one game at a time' and now we really only had one game to win. I am so proud of this team."
The road through districts was a breeze for the Saints until the final match. They were dominant in the opener against Delaware Tech, winning 3-1. In the game against Delaware Tech, Brenner had 12 kills and 15 digs to lead the charge for the Saints. Froehlich contributed 11 kills and 11 digs.
Next up was the Community College of Rhode Island, where again, the Saints were victorious three sets to one. Brenner was a dominant force again adding 13 kills and 14 digs while Froehlich chipped 12 kills of her own. Winkleman added 13 digs to the winning effort.
The Saints third opponent of the weekend was Lackawanna CC. In a word the Saints dominated, winning three games to zero and punching their ticket to the district finals. In the victory, everyone on the team contributed. Six out of seven players registered points. Four players had six kills or more and 6 out of 7 starters added digs to the score sheet.
The finals saw the Saints, matched up against a tough Harcum College team. In a back-and-forth affair, the Saints dropped the first set 25-20. Set two went to the Saints 25-17. In the third set, the Saints claimed a 26-24 victory before dropping set four 25-21. This set up a winner take all championship, with the first to score 15 points. After falling behind early the Saints rallied to come back and take the lead, and they would not relinquish it winning the final set and the district championship 15-11.