Asheville enters the tournament with a 19-11 overall record. The Bulldogs went 11-5 in Big South Conference play and finished in third place for the first time ever. Julie Torbett's club was a preseason pick to finish in fifth place but surprised the experts by coming in third.
"We're excited about the tournament," stated Torbett. "This is what you play for all season is a chance to win a championship. We've got a tough match in the first round against Charleston Southern and that's what our focus has been all week."
The Bulldogs received some good news Wednesday night when four players earned awards from the conference. Junior outside hitter Cindi Miller was named to the Big South's All-Conference first team, while senior outside hitter Kelsey Benorden made second team. Libero Alex Stewart made the All-Freshman team. Senior setter Rachel Guinane made the All-Academic team for the second straight year.
Asheville had two tough matches against Charleston Southern this season. The Bulldogs won in five sets in Charleston on Oct. 8 and four close sets against the Buccaneers at Justice Center on Nov. 6.
"Charleston Southern has a scrappy team that has a great player in Amanda Hill (Big South Player of the Year) and are well-coached," commented Torbett. "We're going to have to be at our best to win on Thursday. Both matches we played against them this year could have gone either way."
The Bulldogs have advanced to the semifinals for five straight years and eight of the last nine tournaments...Asheville has only played CSU once in the BSC Tournament in the last 10 years and that came in 2001 when the fifth-seeded Bulldogs upset the fourth-seeded Buccaneers at Liberty...Kelsey Benorden made all-conference either first or second team every year of her career.