KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov. 4, 2017) – The #2-seed U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Mariners are the 2017 Skyline Conference Champions! USMMA defeated visiting #4-seed Mount St. Vincent in a five-set thriller on Saturday night to claim the title. With the win, the Mariners earn the Skyline's automatic bid into the NCAA Championships, which is the program's first appearance in the "big dance" since 2001.
The Mariners won the first two sets, but the Dolphins stormed back to take the third and fourth sets to set up a decisive fifth and final set. The scores of the match were 25-19, 27-25, 15-25, 23-25, 15-12. Merchant Marine improves to 17-7 with the win, while Mount St. Vincent ends the season with an 18-14 record.
For her performances in both of the Mariners' Skyline Championship matches this week, senior Dominique Pope (Silver Spring, Md.) was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Pope picked up her second double-double of the tournament with 12 kills and 15 digs to go along with four assists and two blocks. Junior Kate Lefler (Norman, Okla.) had a team-high 13 kills in the match and also had a double-double, which was her second in the two matches as well, with 16 digs.
Two other Mariners record double-doubles on the evening, as sophomore Kyleigh Kappas (Parker, Colo.), had 32 assists and 17 digs, while also chipping in offensively with four kills, and senior Kayla Gleason (Sound Beach, N.Y.) recorded 12 kills and tied for the team-high with 18 digs to go along with four blocks. She tied with classmate Alex Miller (Stevensville, Mich.), who also picked up 18 digs.
Fellow senior Tichina Carmon (Greenville, N.C.) put down a match-high five blocks and chipped in with five kills and classmate Myckenzie Toler (Prunedale, Calif.) rounded out six Mariners with double-digit digs with 12 on the night.
For Mount St. Vincent, sophomore Tara Maloney recorded a double-double as she led all players in the match with 19 kills and 19 digs. Senior Nicole Henderson also picked up a double-double with a match-high 36 assists and 15 digs, as did classmate Maria Leineweber, who had 10 kills and 15 digs. Thre other Dolphins registered double-digit digs on the night, as freshman Alexandra Rios had 17, junior libero Lelsey Peralta had 15 and classmate Patsy Sewell had 12.
The Mariners become the first women's team at the Academy to qualify for the NCAA Tournament since the softball team did so back in 2004. USMMA will find out its NCAA First Round opponent and the location of which region they will be playing in when the NCAA announces the full field of 64 teams on a webcasted selection show scheduled for Monday afternoon, Nov. 6 at 12:30 p.m. To watch the show, follow this link. And as always, follow along with all the latest updates on www.USMMASports.com.
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