INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Lincoln Memorial University volleyball team maintained its position from the initial NCAA Southeast Region rankings, staying put at No. 3 in the most recent poll. The rankings determine the participants for the NCAA Tournament — which begins on Dec. 5 — as the top eight teams in the final poll earn a spot in the field. The No. 1 team in the region serves as the regional host.
The first regional ranking of the year was released on Nov. 7 and the Lady Railsplitters (17-11, 13-7 SAC) opened at No. 3 in the poll. After going 2-1 over a three-game road trip this past week, the Lady Railsplitters maintained the third spot this week.
Lincoln Memorial’s lone blemish over the past week came on Nov. 8 as the Queens Royals overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Lady Railsplitters in Charlotte, N.C. LMU rebounded from that loss by posting a .285 attack percentage in a four-set victory over the Catawba Indians in Salisbury, N.C.. The Lady Railsplitters added another notch to the win column on Tuesday, withstanding a furious rally by the Carson-Newman Eagles to hold on for a five-set win in Jefferson City, Tenn.
The Lady Railsplitters have amassed 1,368 kills this season with a .212 attack percentage, ranking first and fourth respectively in the conference in those categories. Senior Kaitlin Walton has led the charge all season for Lincoln Memorial as she has accumulated a team-leading 305 kills with 2.80 per set. Three other Lady Railsplitters are tallying at least two kills per set, and Jazzy Oates leads that trio with 2.30 kills per frame and 255 total kills. Brooke Fleeman is just off that pace with 2.18 kills a frame and 244 total kills, while Kendra Gephart has carded 241 kills with a 2.19 per set average.
LMU’s defense has been paced by the duel efforts of Oates and Casey Mense. Oates leads the team and ranks second in the SAC with 82 total blocks this season. Mense, meanwhile, is second in the league with 586 total digs and third in the conference with 5.23 digs per set. On Tuesday, Mense broke Lincoln Memorial’s single season record for digs, surpassing the previous mark set by Courtney Marton during the 2005 season of 562.
More than half of the ten teams in the NCAA Southeast Region rankings represent the South Atlantic Conference. Wingate remained at No. 1 in the poll as the Bulldogs have compiled a 24-2 overall record without a loss since Sept. 8. Anderson, Newberry, Tusculum and Lenoir-Rhyne hold the four spots immediately following the Lady Railsplitters, while Mars Hill broke into the poll at No. 10.
The Lady Railsplitters are set to close the regular season this weekend, hosting Brevard on Friday at 7 p.m. before welcoming Lenoir-Rhyne to Mary E. Mars Gymnasium for a 2 p.m. draw in the regular season finale.