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FIT Volleyball Places 7th at Nationals

by Carrie Thomas

(Rochester, MN)  The FIT Volleyball earned a trip to the NJCAA Division III tournament  held in Rochester, MN.  There they would compete among the best of the best in the nation.  The Tigers went into the tournament with a 36-4 record.

In the opening round the #8 Tigers suffered a loss against eventual National Champion, Madison College (Wisconsin) 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-15)  "You could definitely tell we were a little nervous.  We got off to a great start and held our own for the first half of the first set but then we dug ourselves deep in a hole and couldn't seem to get out.  I thought we played Madison tough.  We just weren't able to pass the ball as effectively as we normally do which wiped out our strong offense.  Had we played Madison a little deeper into the tournament, I think the outcome may have been different," said Coach Carrie Thomas.

The Tigers were led by Anna Buckley with 15 set assists.  Megan Houff recorded 5 kills.

In the second match of the day the Tigers lost a heartbreaker to Eastfield CC (Texas)  3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 24-26, 27-25, 12-15).  "This was a fabulous matchup.  It definitely was a fan's game.  This match had the entire gym on the edge of their seat.  The volleys were long and intense.  The offense on both sides had a hard time finding the holes and the defense scrapped up everything that came their way.  The girls played with so much intensity from the first point through game point.  I was very proud of how hard they pushed themselves.  At the end of the match they were exhausted, as they should have been, from playing with so much adrenaline and emotion,"stated Coach Thomas.

The Tigers were led by MB Megan Houff with 19 kills while Rachel Carey and Miranda Mitchell pounded out 12 kill a piece. Setter Anna Buckley dished out 47 set assists. Alison Tyler and Michelle Vainblat scrapped up 37 and 36 digs respectively.

The Tigers closed out the national tournament with a victory over Montgomery CC (Maryland) 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22).  "We knew we wanted to come out of this tournament with at least one win.  After such an intense match against Eastfield, we had to dig in and find the strength to play as hard as we could and leave MN winners.  These girls played wholeheartedly the entire match.  Our defense was stellar.  We made plays that looked near impossible.  This enabled us to use our biggest strength which is our quick offense.  The best thing about this tournament, and actually the entire post season ,is that everyone has contributed to our success...whether it be offensively, defensively, back up, etc.  It has been an entire team effort the whole way!" stated Coach Thomas.  "This has definitely been one helluva season. The girls have endured so much physically and emotionally. They have made me so proud all season long.  They are a great bunch with positive attitudes, great work ethic and strong motivation. All of these traits will follow them off the court and into the rest of their lives. I wish every one of them the best of luck!"

The three FIT sophomores who played their final match of their FIT career finished strong. Megan Houff finished with 20 kills. Rachel Carey tallied 12 kills and Vivian Htam pounded out 8 kills.  Thomas stated, "We are really going to miss these three on the court next season.  They have had such a strong presence on our team for the past two seasons.  Their leadership and skill will be greatly missed."  Freshman Anna Buckley scattered 38 set assists. Michelle Vainblat was phenomenal in the backcourt picking up 39 digs.

Megan Houff was named to the NJCAA Division III National All Tournament Team.  The FIT Tigers Volleyball Team finished with an overall season record of 37-6.

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