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Bags Packed: Jimmie volleyball departs for nationals

University of Jamestown middle blocker Haley Glasoe fires a kill to the floor, as teammates Julina Niemeier (2) and Josie Beckman (15) look on, during a match against Mayville State at Harold Newman Arena on Nov. 4. John M. Steiner / The Sun

College athletes are expected to bring their 'A' game to national tournaments, but they also can't forget to pack a toothbrush.

University of Jamestown volleyball kicks off national pool play Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa facing Cornerstone University (Mich.) at the Tyson Events Center. It's the second year in a row the Jimmies have earned an automatic bid to the NAIA Volleyball National Championship final site and standout middle blocker Haley Glasoe has planned for an extended stay.

"We have an itinerary and I've been packing today," Glasoe said Saturday night. "Hopefully we're going to be there longer than just the three days this year."

Jamestown knocked off 14th-ranked Missouri Baptist 3-2 to start national pool play last year in Sioux City, but subsequently fell to third-ranked Hastings College 3-0 and unranked Union College (Ky.) 3-1. The top two teams in each of the eight, four-team pools advance to a 16-team elimination-bracket final tournament on Dec. 1-2.

Following tomorrow's 11 a.m. contest against 16-ranked Cornerstone (27-6), the 19th-ranked Jimmies (21-8) will take on top-ranked and undefeated Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (28-0) on Wednesday and Texas Wesleyan University (27-4) on Thursday, with both of those matches slated for 10 a.m.

"We're obviously feeling pretty good right now and pretty fortunate to be in the tournament," Jimmie volleyball coach Jon Hegerle said. "We've seen Cornerstone before and we think we match up well with them."

The Jimmies defeated Cornerstone 3-1 during the V-Hawk Holiday Inn Tournament in La Crosse, Wisc. on Sept. 8. Senior outside hitter Morgan Hensch slammed 17 kills to the floor in the match.

No. 1 Lindsey Wilson College will be a major challenge for the Jimmies on Wednesday. The Blue Raiders roster 10 players either 6-foot or taller, and also represent five countries outside the United States with players from such places as Brazil and the Czech Republic.

Lindsey Wilson has lost only one set all season and leads the nation in team's with 500 or more kills in hitting percentage at .352.

"We've had some really good practices and we've been working on some things we haven't been very good at lately," Hegerle said. "We were able to upset No. 14 right away last year but got tripped up against an unranked team. Hopefully we've learned from that, but right now we're just worried about Cornerstone.

"The girls are probably pretty sick of hearing about and seeing tape on them."

Tuesday's match will be Jamestown's first action in 18 days. The Jimmies' last game was a 3-2 loss to 21st-ranked Bellevue in the semifinals of the North Star Athletic Association conference tournament in La Crosse on Nov. 10.

Jamestown will be relying on Glasoe to carry her solid senior season to Sioux City. She's currently ninth in the nation in hitting percentage (.373) and fifth in the country in blocks per set (1.4).

"I just want to do the best I can, either offensively or holding the block for the other hitters," said Glasoe, who has piled up 229 kills and 137 total blocks on the season. "We really want to move on from pool play and get to the top 16 teams. So many of us were there last year that I think we can come out really focused on what we need to do."

"For the most part with us, what it really comes down to is how we handle the ball on our side of the net," Hegerle said. "Passing and serving, and we feel pretty strongly about being able to do those two things at a high level."

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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