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November 25, 2012

Yale to Face Bowling Green in NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship Opening Round

Portions courtesy of Yale Sports Publicity

Bracket: Interactive | PDF

Recording of selection show (via espn.com)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ivy League champion Yale will face Bowling Green in the opening round of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship on Friday night. The teams will meet in University Park, Pa. at Penn State's Rec Hall beginning at 5 pm. 

The Bulldogs won 15 straight matches to finish the 2012 regular season and completed the second 14-0 season in Ivy League volleyball history. Yale went 18-5 overall and featured five players who earned All-Ivy honors. In the latest release of the RPI on Sunday, Yale was ranked No. 66.

Yale will be making its fourth-ever NCAA appearance. Last season, the Bulldogs faced top-ranked Southern California and lost 3-0 in the opening round. 

Ivy League teams have won three opening round matches in 18 previous NCAA Championship appearances and Yale owns two of those victories. All-time, Yale is 2-3 in NCAA Championship action, having recorded opening round against Albany in 2004 (four sets) and Ohio (five sets) in 2008. 

Yale and Bowling Green will be meeting for the first time ever. 

"We're thrilled to be playing in the NCAA Tournament," Yale head coach Erin Appleman said.  "This is another great honor for the Yale volleyball program and we're excited to be playing such high-level competition on the national stage."

Appleman served eight years as an assistant coach at Penn State and won a national title with the Nittany Lions in 1999 along with five NCAA Final Four appearances.  

Yale junior Kendall Polan earned Ivy League Player of the Year for the second season in a row, while freshman Kelly Johnson captured Rookie of the Year honors. Sophomore Mollie Rogers joined Polan and Johnson with a spot on the All-Ivy first team, while senior team captain Haley Wessels and sophomore Maddie Rudnick were named to the All-Ivy second team. 

Polan played in all 79 sets during the regular season, averaging 7.47 assists per set. Her 183 kills ranked third on the squad to go along with her team-best 590 assists. She also added in 15 service aces. In League play, she recorded 370 of her assists for a 7.71 assist-per-set average, fifth-best in the League, to go along with a .250 hitting percentage and a 4.12 digs per set average, which ranked seventh in the League. 

Johnson could hardly be called the Bulldogs' "other setter." While recording 427 assists for an average of 5.41, she also had 225 kills and 53 total blocks, both second-best on the squad.

Her 2.85 kills per set ranked eighth in the League overall. That mark jumped to 3.06 in Ivy matches, which ranked sixth. She also hit .324 in League play, tops among rookies and seventh in the Ivy. 

Johnson and Polan combined for more than 1,000 assists this season, equating for a big part of the reason that the Bulldogs are third in the nation as a team in assists per set at 13.9. The Bulldogs are hitting .240 as a squad this year. 

Bowling Green (21-10) had an RPI rank of No. 53 as of the latest release. The Falcons have won 17 of their last 20 matches after winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament. Entering the MAC tourney as the No. 2 seed, Bowling Green swept Eastern Michigan in three sets before consecutive five-set wins over Western Michigan and Northern Illinois to with the tournament and clinch an automatic bid into the field of 64. 

Bowling Green will be making its second-ever NCAA Championship appearance. The Falcons last appeared in 1991, losing in the opening round to Wisconsin. 

This season, the Falcons are hitting .209 as a team. Paige Penrod leads the team in kills with 470, averaging 3.85 per set. Penrod had a career-high 30 kills in a match against Utah earlier this season. She earned first team All-MAC honors along with teammates Danielle Tonyan and Lindsey Butterfield.

Penn State (29-2), the overall No. 1 seed in the bracket, and Binghamton (13-17) are the other two teams playing in University Park. Yale and Bowling Green will play the first match at 5 pm, with Penn State and Binghamton following at approximately 7:30 pm. 

The quartet are part of the West Lafayette, Ind. Regional. Winners of Friday's first round matches will play Saturday for the right to advance to the West Lafayette and the Round of 16. 

TICKETS: All session tickets for the first and second rounds must be purchased at the Bryce Jordan Center Ticket Office or by calling 1-800-NITTANY up until Friday, Nov. 30 at Noon. All session tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for youth and students and $8 for groups (20 or more). Single session tickets will only be available at Rec Hall on Friday and Saturday and are $8 for adults, $6 for youth and students and $5 for groups.