Volleyball team, fresh off awards, headed to playoffs

The Gator women's volleyball team will compete in the NCAA Division II West Regional Championships this week in Hawaii. The Gators earned a spot in the tournament after recently being named one of the top eight western teams, and will compete for the chance to advance to the National Championships.

"We've been playing hard all year, and now we're ready for the playoffs," said head coach Michelle Patton. "It will be a competitive field, and we’ll be facing off against teams outside our conference that we've never played before. We’re feeling strong."

A Photo of Iris Tolenada and Meagan Wright

2012 CCAA Most Valuable Player Iris Tolenada (left) and Freshman of the Year Meagan Wright (right). (Credit: Mike Getman)

The three-round tournament will take place Nov. 29 – Dec. 1 at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. The seventh seed Gators take on the second seed Grand Canyon University on Thursday, Nov. 29, for a chance to advance to the semi-finals.

As the Gators were preparing for the playoffs last week, several players on the team received prestigious awards for their play during the regular season. Last week, senior Iris Tolenada was named the Most Valuable Player of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).

"Iris won the Freshman of the Year award in her first year and now she's the MVP, so for her to win them both is a sign of a great college career," Patton said.

Meagan Wright was named the conference's Freshman of the Year for 2012. Tolenada and Wright, as well as sophomore Kelly Ostello and senior Megan Johnson, were named to the All-CCAA team. The awards were announced after voting by all of the conference's coaches.

-- Philip Riley