On November 12th, the #16 Transylvania University Pioneers Volleyball team won the Lexington Regional of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament, punching their ticket to the NCAA elite eight in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The regional, which lasted from November the 10th to the 12th, saw the Pioneers cruise to a 3-0 first round victory against Randolph-Macon, followed by back to back thrilling victories over top ten teams, with a 3-2 comeback victory over #5 Emory and a 3-1 regional clinching victory over #7 Berry. The regional, which took place at the Beck center, saw a large turnout from Transylvania students and fans cheering on the volleyball team, which has already clinched its best tournament result in program history.
Transylvania began the regional on Thursday the 10th, with a match against the Randolph-Macon College Yellow Jackets. The Pioneers were dominant out of the gate, cruising to a 3-0 victory that saw minimal lead changes and a 25-9 victory in the decisive third set. The Pioneers next game, which took place on the 11th, would not be nearly as easy, as they would face a perennial volleyball powerhouse and recent national champion (2018) in the #5 Emory University Eagles. The Pioneers would fall behind early, with a heartbreaking first set that the Pioneers pushed to extra points but ultimately lost 25-27, and a second set that ultimately saw the Eagles pull away in a 17-25 Pioneer defeat. Facing an 0-2 deficit, the Pioneers began their comeback, with a hot start and eventually pulling away in a 25-20 third set win, and a 25-21 fourth set victory that saw the Pioneers overcome the early deficit. In the winner-take-all fifth set, the two teams would go on back and forth runs, with the Pioneers eventually climbing to a 14-10 set lead. After withstanding a late run by the Eagles, the Pioneers would eventually clinch the set and the match with a 15-13 win, advancing to the Regional Final.
In the Regional Final on the 12th, the Pioneers would once again face a top ten team, this time the #7 Berry College Vikings. The Vikings would begin the first set in dominant fashion, and while the Pioneers would make adjustments throughout, the Vikings would eventually cruise and the set would end in a 16-25 loss. The adjustments by the Pioneers would begin to show fruit in the second set, after the Pioneers claimed an early lead which they never relented, eventually winning 25-21. The third set saw six lead changes and the Pioneers coming back from an 8 point deficit late in the match, eventually winning 28-26 after the set was pushed to extra points. With an opportunity to clinch a regional win in the fourth set, the Pioneers would lead for most of the set, and when the Vikings eventually tied it up late 20-20, the Pioneers would go on one last run to win 25-21, clinching a victory in the Lexington regional. After the match, Senior Karrington Jackson, Sophomore Cate Scheper, and Junior Grace Ward were named to the Regional All-Tournament Team, with Ward also being named Most Outstanding player for the region.
The Transylvania student body showed out in all three games at the Beck Center, with a raucous crowd supporting the Pioneers as they advanced through their best tournament run in program history. Some students went above and beyond in their support, creating signs on the fly and even showing up in costume. Senior student Chase Parker showed up to the first round game in a Batman costume, saying to the Rambler, “Bats are our mascot, and what better representative for them than Batman.”
With this win, the Pioneers advance to the NCAA elite eight, which will be held at UMPC Cooper Field House in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pioneers will face the #8 New York University Violets in the first round at 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday, November 16th. If the Pioneers win that match, they could advance to the semifinals and championship game of the tournament, which would be held on the 17th and 19th respectively.