A trio of local high school products are headed to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
Alli Stumler, Allyson Cathey and Marissa Hornung, and their respective college teams, are going to the tourney’s regional-semifinal round after winning their first two matches in the Big Dance over the weekend.
Stumler and the ninth-seeded Wildcats swept Southeast Missouri State 25-20, 25-15, 25-19 in their first-round match Friday, then did the same to Michigan, 25-19, 25-10, 25-20 in Saturday’s second round at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.
In the win over SEMO, the 6-foot-1 sophomore outside hitter tallied 12 kills, 14 points, nine digs, two block assists and an ace. In the victory over the Wolverines, the Christian Academy alum compiled 11 kills, 15 points, two digs, two block assists and three aces.
Stumler and the Wildcats (25-6) will be making their third consecutive appearance in the regional semifinals, when they face eighth-seeded Washington (26-6) at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor University.
Stumler will see a familiar face in Waco, Texas in Hornung. That’s because the Providence alum and the 16th-seeded Boilermakers (24-7) will face the top-seeded Bears (27-1) at noon Friday (ESPNU) in the other regional semifinal at Baylor after winning their first two matches in West Lafayette.
Purdue swept Wright State 25-9, 25-21, 25-11 in its first-round match Friday before beating Marquette 22-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-13 in the second round Saturday night at Holloway Gymnasium.
In the win over the Raiders, the 5-7 sophomore libero had a match-high 15 digs to go along with two assists and an ace. In the victory over the Golden Eagles, Hornung had a match-best 18 digs to go along with an ace and a block assist.
While Hornung’s season continued with the win over Marquette, the career of another local product ended. Gwyn Jones, a Floyd Central graduate and a 6-3 senior middle blocker for the Golden Eagles, played her final match. After tallying two kills, three digs, an assist, an ace and one block assist in Marquette’s first-round 25-23, 25-19, 25-22 win over Dayton, Jones had seven kills, two block assists and one solo block in the loss to the Boilers.
On the other side of the bracket, Cathey’s 11th-seeded Penn State squad picked up sweeps of Princeton (25-21, 25-20, 25-19) and Towson (22-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-20) on its home court to earn a spot in the regional semifinals. However Cathey, a 6-1 outside hitter from New Albany, didn’t play in either match due to an injury.
The Nittany Lions (26-5) will now face Cincinnati (27-6) at 8 p.m. Friday at Stanford, Calif. in the regional semis. The Bearcats upset sixth-seeded Pittsburgh 24-26, 25-21, 16-25, 25-21, 15-13 on its home court Saturday night. If Penn State wins its regional semi it will likely face host, and third-seeded, Stanford (26-4) for the right to go to the Final Four.
The season is also over for another local product who made it to the NCAA Tournament. Sierra Rayzor, a CAI graduate, and her Samford Bulldogs were swept by Louisville in a first-round match Thursday at Western Kentucky University (the Cardinals outlasted the host, and 15th-seeded, Hilltoppers on Friday to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 too). The 6-0 middle blocker had six kills for Samford in its season-ending loss.
OTHER LOCALS FINISH IN NAIA TOURNEY
Four other local products also saw their seasons come to an end in the NAIA’s 40th Annual Volleyball National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa.
IU Kokomo and its pair of Silver Creek alums, freshmen Kiersten Cooper and Zoie Zimmerman, lost all three of their pool-play matches. Cooper, an outside/middle hitter, finished second on the squad with 284 kills this season. Meanwhile Zimmerman, a defensive specialist, ranked fifth on the team with 167 digs.
Floyd Central grad Alexis Smith and her Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) team won its first three matches before Jamestown (N.D.) outlasted the Blue Raiders 18-25, 32-30, 21-25, 27-25, 15-8 in the Round of 16 on Friday. Smith, a sophomore outside hitter, had a match-best 25 kills in the loss. She finished the season second on the squad in kills (393).
Another Silver Creek grad, Alex Falcone, and her Indiana Wesleyan squad made it all the way to the tournament’s quarterfinals. However Viterbo (Wisc.) eliminated Falcone and IWU with a 21-25, 25-14, 25-23, 30-32, 15-13 victory Friday night. Falcone, a senior setter, tallied 61 assists in her final match.