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Flynn, Ellis Named AVCA First-Team All-America as Trinity Volleyball Preps in Pittsburgh

Flynn, Ellis Named AVCA First-Team All-America as Trinity Volleyball Preps in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH – Third-seeded Trinity University Volleyball will take on sixth-seed Massachusetts Institute of Technology at 12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday as the kickoff match of the 2022 NCAA III Women's Volleyball Championship final-site event this week in Pennsylvania.

The Tigers (28-4) enter the NCAA III quarterfinal on the heels of a thrilling fifth-set victory over last weekend's previously-unbeaten regional host, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (CA), to claim supremacy in Region 10 after knocking out University of Puget Sound (WA) and University of Chicago in straight sets the previous two days in southern California.

On the practice day for the NCAA III finale, the American Volleyball Coaches Association released its 2022 All-America honorees, featuring seniors Emily Ellis (Georgetown, Texas / Georgetown) and Sara Flynn (Seattle, Wash. / Roosevelt) as a pair of first-team selections, the second time that each player has been recognized by the AVCA nationally. Junior Maddie Fate (New York, N.Y. / Croton on Hudson) also received All-America status through an honorable mention.

All three Tigers were awarded All-Region first-team status last week during the NCAA III regional competition, joined by senior Sarah Williammee (Denver, Colo. / East) as an honorable mention.

The Tigers logged their 15th undefeated regular season in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play in the 2022 campaign, all since joining the league for the 1991 season. Five players received all-conference recognition between the four previously mentioned and senior setter Marisa Amarino (Calabasas, Calif. / Notre Dame) as a third All-SCAC first-teamer alongside the two 2022 All-Americans.

AVCA All-America…

Tuesday's announcement marks the second time in program history that the Tigers have had a pair of first-team All-Americans by the AVCA in back-to-back seasons since the 2002 and 2003 campaigns when the now-Trinity Athletics Hall of Fame trio of Ashley Farrimond (2002 & 2003), Morgan Anderson (2002) and Shawn McLaughlin (2003) accomplished the feat originally as the first four first-team selections in school history.

Ellis and Flynn mark the 13th and 14th first-team selection since 1991, and complete the two-player repeat with last season's first-team duo of Avery Tuggle and Annie Rose Leggett. Tuggle graduated as the fifth Tiger all-time to reach the 1,000-mark in both kills and digs while Leggett secured the program-record for career service aces.

Fate's inclusion marks the third time since 2014 that three Tigers have been listed in the AVCA All-America honors, which also includes a repeat from last season as Flynn joined Tuggle and Leggett as an honorable mention.

Preview: NCAA III Championship

The final three rounds of the 2022 NCAA III Women's Volleyball Championship will be played at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, the home facility of NCAA I Duquesne University in downtown Pittsburgh.

The eight remaining teams were re-seeded following last weekend's regional competition in the following order:

No. 1 Juniata College (PA)
No. 2 New York University
No. 3 Trinity University
No. 4 Johns Hopkins University (MD)
No. 5 University of Northwestern-St. Paul
No. 6 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
No. 7 Transylvania University (KY)
No. 8 Hope College (MI)


The three-versus-six matchup between Trinity and MIT will kick off the NCAA III quarterfinal action Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. CT) followed by the other match in the lower portion of the bracket between NYU and Transylvania.

While ranking in the top-25 of NCAA III in six statistical categories, Trinity's signature remains on the block as the team's 2.85 per-set average and 322 total blocks both lead NCAA III heading into the final weekend. The only other team over two blocks per set this season in the final eight is Northwestern-St. Paul in sixth at 2.40 per set.

Ellis and Fate rank fourth and sixth, respectively in NCAA III at 1.30 and 1.29 blocks per set, the two highest-ranking players of any team in Pittsburgh this week.

Ellis also ranks seventh nationally with a .410 hitting percentage, third among remaining tournament players. Flynn's .381 season attack average is the highest of all remaining pin hitters in the NCAA III field, 19th overall in the division this season.

Scouting the Field

The Tigers have faced six of the other seven teams in Pittsburgh since the start of the 2021 season, the lone unfamiliar program being the eighth-seed Flying Dutch, who snuck past arch-rival Calvin University (MI) on its home floor last weekend.

Of the other six, the most recent meetings between Trinity and each respective program are split evenly between the last two seasons. In 2021, the Tigers hosted Northwestern-St. Paul, visited MIT and battled NYU for the NCAA III Hoboken Regional title. This season, Trinity hosted both Transylvania and Juniata, travelling to Atlanta to face Johns Hopkins in between. All of the six meetings listed were victorious for the Tigers, dropping just four sets over the six matchups.

On the No. 6 Engineers: MIT entered the NCAA III tournament as the champion of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) ranked 18th by the final regular-season AVCA poll, and made their way to Pittsburgh through a sweep of No. 19 Tufts University (MA), another familiar program to the Tigers in the last two seasons.

The Engineers had five players listed in the AVCA All-Region release, including Region 2 Player of the Year and second-team All-American Consecrata Rozario. A junior middle hitter, Rozario's biggest influence is in offensive efficiency as the highest-ranked hitting percentage of the NCAA III quarterfinal squads at .436 this season.

Trinity is 2-0 all-time against MIT, both in sweeps. The first meeting came in San Antonio near the end of the 2008 regular season, while the other was last season's weekend getaway to New England.

The winner of the event's opening match Wednesday will battle the victor of the two-versus-seven matchup at 5 p.m. ET Thursday.

On the No. 2 Violets: NYU, like Trinity, earned an at-large bid into this year's NCAA III postseason after falling out of its conference tournament in the semifinal round. The regular-season University Athletic Association (UAA) champion was selected with a 24-6 record and ranked eighth by the AVCA in the final regular-season poll. Five of its six losses came to nationally-ranked opponents; the lone unranked loss being Johns Hopkins just before the UAA tournament.

Region 4 Player of the Year and first-team All-American Haley Holz leads five All-Region honorees for the Violets with 441 kills this season (12th in NCAA III) toward the team's 1,654 kills overall, which ranks seventh in NCAA III. However, statistically, NYU's top-ranked players are defensive-minded between 1.15 blocks per set from Leela Anvekar (13th in NCAA III) and second-team All-American Lindsey Hirano's 5.81 digs per set (14th in NCAA III).

Trinity holds a 2-1 series lead over the Violets, though the programs split a pair of matches in San Antonio between the 2001 and 2010 seasons before the Tigers regained the series advantage at Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ) in last year's NCAA III regional final.

On the No. 7 Pioneers: Transy makes its first-ever NCAA III quarterfinal appearance Wednesday afternoon against the Violets after defeating regional host Berry College (GA) in four sets. While knocking off the last undefeated team in NCAA Volleyball on Saturday was massive for Trinity, the Pioneers were tasked with a gauntlet bracket that featured both seventh-ranked Berry and No. 5 Emory University (GA) in consecutive matchups en route to Pittsburgh.

Transylvania has a pair of second-team All-America selections in setter Grace Ward and middle blocker Karrington Jackson. Ward leads NCAA III with 11.20 assists per set which has led the Pioneers to team marks of fourth in NCAA III kills per set (13.79) and sixth in hitting percentage (.258). Jackson's .389 hitting clip has also had strong influence on the offensive success for Transy.

The Pioneers' visit to San Antonio for the Trinity National Invitational was the first meeting between the two programs, a sweep for the Tigers the same day as Trinity's first win over an AVCA top-ranked team.

If the Tigers were to advance through the semifinal, the tournament will remain idle Friday as one final practice and/or regrouping day for the remaining teams. To note on the other side of the bracket:

Juniata enters the week as the top seed with only one loss in 2022, the Eagles' mid-September to Trinity, in four sets. In 24 straight victories since its encounter with the Tigers, Juniata has ceded just six sets, all in different matches, and swept through their home NCAA III regional bracket.

Johns Hopkins had a rocky start to the 2022 campaign, dropping five straight matches between the second and third regular-season weekends, one of which being to Trinity in five sets at Emory's East*West Classic. However, the Bluejays have won 15-straight since October 8 including the five-setter over NYU.

Northwestern-St. Paul is 33-2 ahead of Wednesday's action after an undefeated run through the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. Through 35 matches this year the Eagles defeated one of the other quarterfinalists, Hope College, on the road in a sweep.

Hope earned an at-large bid into the NCAA III postseason after being swept in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association semifinal with a 21-7 record that featured two regular-season losses to Calvin in sweeps, and a four-set loss to Wittenberg University (OH). In order, Hope knocked off No. 9 Wittenberg, No. 10 Washington University in St. Louis and No. 5 Calvin, all in their arch-rival Knights' gym to get to Pittsburgh.