USC Aiken volleyball receives NCAA Tournament bid

Nov. 21—The USC Aiken volleyball team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, which was announced Monday evening.

Head coach Glenn Cox's team sports a 16-10 record and received the No. 5 seed in the upcoming NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament.

The Pacers will take on No. 4 Anderson in the first round at 5 p.m. Friday. The Trojans are 25-5 on the season and finished South Atlantic Conference play with a 16-2 record.

USCA is 5-1 in the all-time series against Anderson. The Pacers swept the Trojans in 2002 and 2007 before AU took a 3-2 victory in 2010. Cox's team has notched three consecutive wins in the series, besting the Trojans in 2011, 2014 and 2017.

The Pacers rank 14th nationally in digs per set with 18.10, and senior libero Kari Mercer ranks 10th individually in that category with 5.49. Senior setter Mallory Barash is 50th in the country in assists per set with 9.66. Junior outside hitter Emily Lammers made the PBC All-Tournament team thanks to a 20-kill, 16-dig performance in the Pacers' semifinal loss to Lander.

Anderson boasts a powerful offense that ranks eighth in the country in kills per set (14.28) and 18th in hitting percentage (.256). Middle blocker Jaelyn Grimm is eighth individually with a .416 hitting percentage, and fellow middle blocker Brantley Chipley is 27th at .368. The Trojans also rank 35th in opponents' hitting percentage (.152) and 48th in digs per set (16.82). The team is 14th in assists per set (12.94), while setter Jenna Long ranks eighth individually with 11.27.

Wingate is the No. 1 seed and regional host. The Bulldogs (27-3), regular season champions of the SAC, will face eighth-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne (21-10) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Augusta (27-4) is the No. 2 seed. The Jaguars, who won both the Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament championships, face seventh-seeded Tusculum (22-6), the SAC tournament champions, at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Lander (27-6) is the No. 3 seed and will play sixth-seeded Emmanuel (22-10), which won the regular season and tournament titles in Conference Carolinas, at noon Friday.