DURHAM, N.H. – The fourth-seeded University of New Hampshire volleyball team will return to the America East Championship Tournament for the third time in the last four years, taking on top-seeded Albany on Friday, Nov. 16 in Albany, N.Y. Match time is set for 7 p.m. at Albany's University Gymnasium. Links to live stats and live video are available at www.unhwildcats.com.
No. 2 Binghamton will take on No. 3 UMBC in the other semifinal on the same day at 4 p.m. The winners of the two semifinals will meet in the title game on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. UNH is in search of its fourth America East Championship. The 'Cats took home the title in 1998, 2002 and 2003.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE || New Hampshire (15-13, 7-5) split a pair of home matches last week, first sweeping Hartford before falling to Albany in five sets in the regular-season finale… Against Albany, Destiny Tolliver notched 21 kills to go along with a .362 hitting percentage and six blocks. Tori Forrest and Abby Brinkman totaled 12 kills apiece, while Forrest also added 11 digs for the double-double. Taylor Dunklau also registered a double-double with 53 assists and 20 digs. Sophomore Sam Henke posted 27 digs… Against Hartford, Morgan Thatcher and Forrest racked up 12 kills apiece, while Dunklau earned a double-double with 30 assists and 11 digs… New Hampshire has made the America East Championship Tournament three times in the last four years, advancing to the semifinals each time … UNH leads the conference in kills (12.62) and assists (11.77) and ranks second in hitting percentage (.214), opponent hitting percentage (.177), blocks (1.81) and digs (16.33).
UNH vs. ALBANY || New Hampshire is 12-15 all-time against Albany, including a pair of losses to the Great Danes this season. In the first meeting of the season on Oct. 12, the Wildcats dropped a 3-1 decision on the road to snap a seven-match winning streak. Thatcher and Forrest registered 16 kills apiece in the loss, while Forrest also had 12 digs for the double-double. In the most recent meeting on Nov. 11, New Hampshire stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth and final set, but the Great Danes held on for the 3-2 victory.
SCOUTING ALBANY || Albany (13-14, 10-2 AE) captured its fifth-straight America East regular-season title and eighth in the last nine years. The Great Danes have also won the last two America East tournament titles and six of the last eight. Sara Pope, who was named the Player of the Year, ranks fifth in the conference with 3.34 kills per set. Albany leads the league in digs (16.80) while Viktoriia Stroilo was named the Defensive Specialist of the Year after posting a conference-leading 5.22 digs per set.
UNH IN THE AE TOURNAMENT || UNH is 9-7 all-time in the America East tournament with three America East Championships in 1998, 2002 and 2003. In addition, the Wildcats have gone to the America East title match seven times, all during Head Coach Jill Hirschinger's tenure.
CAN YOU DIG IT? || Jessie Schnepp totaled 19 digs in the regular-season finale against Albany to break the program's single-season dig record. Schnepp currently has 555 digs, surpassing Alyse Lahti's mark of 540 set during the 2007 season. With 992 career digs, she needs just eight more to become the ninth member of the 1,000-dig club.
AGAINST FOES IN AE TOURNAMENT || UNH is a combined 2-2 all-time against the current tournament field at the America East Championship. The Wildcats defeated Albany twice in the semifinals before a semifinal loss to the Great Danes in 2007. In 2009, No. 2 UNH fell to No. 3 Binghamton by a 3-0 decision in the semifinals. The Wildcats have never played UMBC in the America East tournament.
No. 1 New Hampshire def. No. 4 Albany (3-2)
(30-18, 24-30, 30-24, 25-30, 15-7) Semifinals
No. 1 New Hampshire def. No. 4 Albany (3-1)
(30-22, 29-31, 30-12, 30-26) Semifinals
No. 3 Albany def. No. 2 New Hampshire (3-1)
(20-30, 30-32, 30-22, 17-30)
No. 3 Binghamton def. No. 3 New Hampshire (3-0)
(21-25, 17-25, 20-25) Semifinals
FOUR WILDCATS EARN ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS || Junior right-side hitter Morgan Thatcher was named to the America East All-Conference first team, while freshmen Tori Forrest and Brenna Buckwalter earned all-rookie team honors. Lastly, senior Jessie Schnepp was named to the all-academic team.
Thatcher, who was named to the second team last year, was one of the top offensive players in the conference throughout the season. The team captain paced the Wildcats in kills (409) and kills per set (3.59) as she notched double-digit kills in all but three matches this season, including every conference match. Thatcher was named the America East Player of the Week four times this fall and was also named to the Holly Young Invitational All-Tournament team.
Forrest enjoyed an impactful rookie season for the Wildcats as she ranked second on the team in both kills (291) and kills per set (2.67). Forrest, who was named the America East Rookie of the Week in back-to-back weeks (10/15, 10/22), also racked up seven double-doubles and was named to the George Washington Invitational All-Tournament Team.
Buckwalter also turned-in an impressive rookie campaign as she tallied 162 kills and led the team in hitting percentage with a .246 clip. She was named the America East Rookie of the Week on Sept. 23 after recording a pair of 10-kill performances and averaging 2.36 kills per set in the three-match span.
Schnepp, an occupational therapy major with a 3.63 grade-point-average, was one of the top defensive players in the conference this season. The team captain ranked second in the conference in digs (4.87), third in service aces (0.30), and was also named to both the Holly Young Invitational All-Tournament Team and the Rutgers Invitational All-Tournament Team. She posted 19 digs in the regular-season finale to break the program's single-season record with 555 digs.