CC aims for SCAC tourney volleyball title and NCAA berth

November 7, 2013 Updated: November 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Colorado College volleyball players hope falling short in the regular season may be the push they need for the postseason.

The second-seeded Tigers enter the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on Friday in San Antonio knowing they may have an eventual rematch with top seed and host Trinity.

Last season, host and No. 1 seed Colorado College knocked off TU. No doubt, Trinity, also nicknamed the Tigers, would love to return the favor.

CC, ranked No. 11 in the nation, has a good chance to win its fourth consecutive SCAC championship and 16th straight NCAA Division III Tournament berth, assuming it advances to face likely foe No. 14 Trinity at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The competition has made for a good rivalry, CC junior captain Kristen Liberty said.

"They make us better," she said. "We are not happy about being the No. 2 seed but I think it may help us focus on the SCAC Tournament instead of the NCAAs."

Colorado College (31-3) set a school record with a 17-0 start that ended against Trinity, which swept the season series. The other loss was to Division II Colorado Christian.

The key to Colorado College's success is the chemistry and talent of the team, which includes five all-SCAC honorees.

"We have more depth on this team that in all my years here," said Liberty, a second-team middle hitter. "The coaches have done a good job making everyone feel like they are contributing because anyone can get some starting time."

The first-team honorees are sophomore setter Devon Lucero, Freshman of the Year and outside hitter Abbe Holtze, and sophomore defensive specialist Sophie Merrifield. Sophomore return specialist Courtney Birkett garnered second-team recognition.

"We have a lot of depth and good players," said coach Rick Swan, who recorded his 500th match as the CC coach and his 400th college win this season. "It's been a real roller coaster for them with someone starting one match and not the next."

Swan credits Liberty's leadership in helping an inexperienced team handle that uncertainty. The team has no seniors, four juniors, nine sophomores and three freshmen.

Now, it is a matter of focusing on winning the league title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

"It would have been nice to have been the No. 1 seed and get the regular-season championship but what people remember most is the end," Swan said.

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