Women’s volleyball advances to NCAA Elite Eight

The Violets garnered three wins over the weekend in the NCAA Division III tournament.


NYU moves to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division III tournament. (Courtesy of NYU Athletics)

Pablo Ocariz, Staff Writer

The NYU women’s volleyball team dominated their way through the NCAA Division III tournament this weekend, earning a trip to the Elite Eight. The Violets only lost three sets during the three games they played in the regional rounds at Wesleyan University.

The Violets came into the tournament following their third-place finish in the University Athletic Association Championship. 

Their first win was a sweep over the Westfield State Owls, headlined by the outstanding performance of NYU’s outside hitters. The three outside hitters — sophomore Olivia Lewandowski, senior Gabriella Spaethling and senior Haley Holz — combined for 32 kills. The Owls only had 19 kills as a team, while the Violets had 45 total. 

The second match against Salisbury University was much closer, and it again came down to the hands of the hitters. The five-set victory is the closest match that the Violets have played so far in the tournament, and it was statistically their worst hitting match. Whereas all three outside hitters hit above .421 against Westfield, they all hit below .190 against Salisbury.

Even with a rare down game from the hitters, the performance of sophomore libero Lindsey Hirano catapulted the Violets to the close victory — her 29 digs were crucial in the match. The Violets squeaked out the decisive fifth set 15-12. 

In the regional finals, NYU faced the Williams College Ephs. Unlike Salisbury, the Ephs posed virtually no threat at any point during the match. 

NYU steamrolled past the Ephs in a 3-1 victory. The trio of Lewandowski, Spaethling and Holz played to a superstar level, combining for over 14 kills per set and all of them hitting above .333. Holz in particular had 19 kills.

Despite the stumble in the second match, the Violets have come out victorious. They now move to the Elite Eight against No. 7 Transylvania University at 3 p.m. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday.

With the path laid out in front of them and a relatively weak opponent in the next round, the Violets have a real chance of making the Final Four. Just three wins away from winning the title, NYU has the potential to bring the first NCAA women’s volleyball championship in program history back to Washington Square Park.

Contact Pablo Ocariz at [email protected].