WHEELING, WVA – The Winston-Salem State Rams (22-7) will begin their quest for an NCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship, Thursday evening when the team opens play in the 2017 NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Tournament. The Rams will have their hands full when the team takes on the top-seeded host Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals in a 7:30 p.m. match at the Alma Grace McDonough Center on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.
Winston-Salem State will enter the tournament as the eighth seed in the eight-team tournament. The Rams earned their spot in the tournament when the team claimed the 2017 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Volleyball Championship last weekend. The win was the second in three years and it was the second in three seasons. At 22-7, the Rams have had an impressive 2017 season with junior right side hitter Mia Herrod leading the way. She has totaled 274 kills and ranked second in the conference in that category. She was one of three WSSU players to record at least 200 kills for the season as senior outside hitter Jasmine Smith totaled 246 kills while fellow senior outside hitter Sydney Holland added 228 as well. Smith led the Rams with 29 service aces. All three players earned All-CIAA honors with Smith and Herrod taking first team honors while Holland earned a spot on the second team. Defensively, WSSU sophomore middle blocker Brycelin Spidel led the team with 93 total blocks (23 solo) for the season while junior middle blocker Christa Brown added 82 total blocks (20 solo). Brown also earned second team All-CIAA honors as well.
The Rams will face an extremely tough challenge when they take on a Wheeling Jesuit team that has compiled a 31-5 overall record and claimed the 2017 Mountain East Conference (MEC) Championship. The championship marked the fifth straight MEC championship for the Cardinals and their 10th straight conference championship, including five straight West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) championships prior to the formation of the MEC. Individually, the Cardinals are led by freshman middle blocker Haley Kramer, who currently leads the team with 442 kills and is ranked 15th in the NCAA with a .373 hitting percentage. Kramer was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Atlantic Region Player of the Year. She also earned a spot on the D2CCA NCAA Division II All-Atlantic Region team. Joining her will be freshman setter Stephanie Sylvester who earned a spot on the AVCA Atlantic Region team and the D2CCA NCAA Division II Atlantic Region team. She led the NCAA and the MEC with 1,577 assists in 129 sets of play this season.
The Rams and the Cardinals are set for a 7:30 p.m. start at the Alma Grace McDonough Center on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. Tickets for the single match are $10 while all day tournament passes are $25. Student tickets for the match are $5 while senior citizen tickets are $5.
Live video and statistics are available through www.WSSURams.com or through the Wheeling Jesuit Athletics website at www.athletics.wju.edu. For more information on Rams volleyball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.