ETSU Outlasts UNF for A-Sun Volleyball Title; Devine MVP

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A-Sun Player of the Year Megan Devine was named Tournament MVP and ETSU outlasted North Florida in a five-set thriller to claim its first A-Sun Championship in Allen Arena on Saturday.

The victory is the first by a No. 3 seed since FAU won the 1999 A-Sun Championship. ETSU will now await the announcement on the NCAA selection show next Sunday, Nov. 25th, at 4 p.m. EST on ESPNU, to find out where it will represent the A-Sun in the NCAA Tournament.

Devine's 25th double-double (15 kills, 20 digs) sets an A-Sun record for most in a season, passing FAU's Kelly Paiva's mark set in 2005. Meredith Hardy also tallied a double-double for the Bucs with 13 kills and 11 blocks. Bethany Gesell and Ivey Rice also contributed 11 kills each. Jamie Rutledge posted a match-high of 53 assists for the Bucs.

 Atlantic Sun Insider: Enough Was Enough for A-Sun Champs ETSU

North Florida's Paige Pridgeon led all players in the match with 18 kills and also recorded a double-double with 15 digs. Carolyn Jenkins added 17 kills, Anna Budinska tallied 13 and Dagnija Medina contributed 10. Britt Claessens finished just one shy of ETSU's Rutledge with 52 assists for the Ospreys. Nicole Baran tallied a high of 18 digs for North Florida.

North Florida took an early three-point lead in the first set and maintained an advantage until ETSU battled to draw even at 9-9. The teams exchanged points and the match remained even until ETSU broke the 13-13 tie with four straight points to gain a 17-13 advantage. North Florida surged back with a streak of its own, outscoring the Bucs 6-2 to bring the game even at 19. The Bucs gained a two-point advantage and never relinquished the lead to claim the set 25-23.

In set two it was ETSU jumping out to a 5-1 advantage before the Ospreys came storming back, closing to within three at 8-5 and then going on a 7-0 run to lead 12-8. The game was tied again at 12, before UNF went on another scoring spurt to take a 16-12 lead. Once again the Bucs would close the gap, this time at 18-18, and move past the Ospreys to 22-20 to force a UNF timeout. The set was then tied at 22, 23 and 24, before the Bucs edged ahead for teh 26-24 win.

North Florida attacked the third set, jumping out 7-0 and leading by as many as 10 on two separate occasions. North Florida never relinquished its lead, as the closest the Bucs would get in the set was within six points at 21-15. North Florida hit .336 to the Bucs' .188 in the set.

With the game tied 3-3 in the fourth, North Florida again found a steak and outscored the Bucs 9-2 to tke a 12-5 lead. The Bucs rallied with a streak of their own, outscoring UNF 10-3 and cutting the lead to three at 15-12. The Ospreys maintained a three-point lead until ETSU used a timeout trailing 21-17. Out of the timeout a kill by Khadija Wiley and an error by UNF's Dagnija Medina edged the Bucs to within two at 21-19. A timeout by UNF didn't slow ETSU's momentum, as the Bucs cut the lead to one at 21-20. North Florida pushed the lead to two and Marija Pantovic's ace on the final point brought the match even at 2-2.

Set five began with ETSU exploding for the first six points. The Bucs extended their lead to 9-2, but North Florida would not go away and scored the next five to cut the ETSU lead to 9-6. The teams exchanged points for an 11-8 ETSU lead. A Megan Devine kill gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead, and ETSU edged to 14-11 on a UNF error. A kill by Anna Budinska brought the Ospreys to within two at 14-12, and UNF called timeout. A kill by Khadijah Wiley gave the Bucs the victory.

2012 A-Sun Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team

Tournament Most Valuable Player: Megan Devine, ETSU

• Nicole Baran, North Florida

• Bethany Gesell, ETSU

• Kaycee Green, Lipscomb

• Meredith Hardy, ETSU

• Carolyn Jenkins, North Florida

• Paige Pridgeon, North Florida

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.