Daemen Earns First-Ever NCAA Championship Win in Comeback Over Post

Daemen Earns First-Ever NCAA Championship Win in Comeback Over Post

Amherst, N.Y. - A raucous Lumsden Gymnasium crowd got their monies worth tonight as Cristina Apostol(Bucharest, Romania/Targu Mures) and Courtney Bernard(Lancaster, Ohio/Fairfield Union) combined for 30 kills out of the middle to lead Daemen College to a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory (17-25, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 15-12) over Post University in the opening round of the East Regional portion of the 2016 NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship.  With the win, second-seeded Daemen moves on to tomorrow's second round where they'll face third-seeded University of New Haven.

Daemen, which moved to 24-7 on the season with the win, battled from behind all night long.  Post, the No. 7 seed out of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, put the Wildcats in 1-0 and 2-1 deficits (in sets), before the latter found a way to gut out wins in the fourth and fifth sets.  The Eagles, a team making their third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, end their season at 26-6.

Apostol and Bernard keyed the Daemen offense for much of the contest, combining for a .310 hitting percentage.  Both posted career-highs in kills - Apostol with 16 and Bernard with 14.  After reaching double-figure kills just once in her first 22 matches, the 6-foot-2 has now gone for 10-plus in four of the last six outings.  Bernard, who just recently returned to the lineup after battling an injury for much of the season, registered her first match with double-figure kills since September 14.

Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Drzymala (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster), the East Coast Conference Player of the Year, and redshirt-sophomore outside hitter Courtney Scanlan (Ellicottville, N.Y./Stony Brook University) each posted double-doubles in the Wildcat victory.  Drzymala contributed 15 kills and 14 digs, while Scanlan went for 12 kills and a season-best 13 digs.  Drzymala now has 414 kills this season, as she moves into the top-10 in team history for a single season.  She becomes the first Daemen player to surpass 400 kills in a season since Jenn Karan (Orchard Park, N.Y./Orchard Park) notched 409 during the 2011 season.

Freshman setter Bailey Dolegowski (Marilla, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster) also doubled up with 56 assists and a team-high 18 digs.  The newly-minted American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) East Region Rookie of the Year has now posted seven matches this season with at least 50 assists.  Of her 16 double-doubles this season, 11 have come in the team's last 12 matches. With 1,123 assists now on the season, Dolegowski is one of just four players in team history to surpass 1,100 for a single season, and the first since all-time record holder Kristie Martzolf did so in 2004 with 1,728 helpers.

Senior outside hitter Amber Drzymala (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Mary's of Lancaster) chipped in with nine kills and 12 digs, and sophomore defensive specialist Kailey Ballou (Eden, N.Y./Eden) added 16 digs.

The Eagles were led by senior Skylar German (Kansas City, Mo.).  The 5-foor-10 middle hitter, who was recently named the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association East Region Player of the Year, put down a team-best 14 kills and added 18 digs.  No other Post player managed more than seven kills.

Sophomore setter Brianna Root (Bristol, Conn.) registered 33 assists to go with a game-high 19 digs for the Eagles.

Daemen enjoyed a 69-37 advantage in kills, but also aided the upset-minded Eagles by committing 41 hitting errors.

On the brink of elimination in the fourth set, Daemen rallied for the final four points to snap a 21-21 tie.  Kills from the Drzymala sisters - first Amber, then Ashley - were the bookends of the 4-0 spurt which also included a pair of kills by Bernard.  Ashley's kill on set-point sent the home crowd into a frenzy as the Wildcats forced the match to a fifth set.

In the fifth, Daemen jumped out to a 9-3 lead with a pair of big swings from Scanlan in the spurt which was capped by another from Apostol.  But, Post hung around, eventually pulling within one point on two ocassions (12-11 and 13-12).  Daemen never relinquished the lead, however, as Scanlan sent the Wildcats on to the next round with her kill at match-point.

Daemen's second round opponent, the UNH Chargers, needed five sets themselves to dispose of sixth-seeded Philadelphia University, the CACC Tournament champs.  UNH took the odd-numbered sets (25-20, 20-25, 27-25, 22-25, 16-14) to advance in what is their 31st NCAA tournament appearance all-time, including the last 11 in-a-row.  They've now won six straight matches which includes their run to the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament title.  Match time for No. 2 Daemen vs. No. 3 New Haven is set for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow evening.

In other first round action at Lumsden Gymnasium today, top-seeded N.Y. Institute of Technology needed four sets to knock off No. 8 Adelphi University (25-19, 18-25, 25-20, 25-21).  And, No. 4 American International College sent its NE-10 brethren from No. 5 Le Moyne College home with a straight-sets defeat (25-23, 25-12, 26-24).  No. 1 NYIT and No. 4 AIC face off in the first match of the day tomorrow at 5 p.m.

The winners of tomorrow's second round matchups will meet on Saturday, December 3 at 5 p.m. for the East Region Championship and the right to advance to the 2016 NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship Elite 8 which will be held in Sioux Falls, S.D. from December 8-10.

Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.