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Monroe Women’s Volleyball Qualifies for NJCAA National Tournament as District M Representative

HANCEVILLE, Ala., November 4, 2018 – Needing to win just one match to earn an automatic bid into the 2018 NJCAA Div. I Women's Volleyball Championship Tournament, the Monroe College Mustangs women's volleyball team did so in dramatic fashion on Sunday at the Tom Drake Coliseum. The Mustangs erased a 2-0 deficit in their opener against Lawson State Community College, completing the comeback for a thrilling five-set win to earn their automatic bid and a spot in the District Championship match against host, and No. 19-ranked Wallace State Community College. The Mustangs nearly matched their first match performance, coming back from a two-set hole to force a deciding fifth set, but Monroe lost a competitive final frame, giving Wallace State the tournament victory. Wallace State earns the District L automatic bid by winning this weekend's tournament on their home court. As the tournament runner-up, Monroe claims the District M crown, and will join Wallace State in Hutchinson, Kan. on Nov. 15. For their strong efforts throughout the weekend, Nashally Eleutiza, Maria Camila Salazar and Karla Figueroa were all selected to the District L/M Championship All-Tournament Team. MATCH 1: Monroe 3, Lawson State 2 (20-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-22, 15-7) Things were looking grim for the Mustangs in Sunday's opener as they fell behind, 2-0, to Lawson State. A gritty Monroe team was determined to keep their season alive on Sunday, and took an 11-7 lead in the third set. From there, the lead slowly grew, leading to a 25-18 win to keep the match going. The Cougars jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the fourth frame, and had what appeared to be a comfortable 17-12 lead shortly after. The Mustangs then chipped away, eventually tying it up at 20-20. A five-point run had the Mustangs up, 23-20, and they closed things out from there with a 25-22 win to force the five set. The Mustangs came out strong in the final frame, running out to an 8-3 lead before the teams switched sides. The Cougars got as close as 11-7, but the Mustangs scored the final four to win the match and earn their berth into the National Championship tournament. Salazar finished with 21 kills and three blocks in the comeback victory. Figueroa added 12 kills, three blocks and 13 digs. Tereza Strnadlovaand Giulia La Longa registered 11 kills apiece. Eleutiza picked up 34 digs, while Maryorie Cruz Baez led with 30 assists. MATCH 2: #19 Wallace State 3, Monroe 2 (23-25, 18-25, 25-22, 26-24, 13-15) A long weekend continued with Monroe's fifth match, in which a tired Monroe team once again fell behind, 2-0. The Mustangs found some energy again in the third set, going back-and-forth until they went up, 18-15. The Lions then scored four in a row to take the lead back at 19-18, but the Mustangs took the next three for a 21-19 edge. The set was tied up at 22-22 before the Mustangs threw down three straight kills, earning a 25-22 win to keep their day going. The Lions jumped out to a 5-0 in the fourth frame, but the Mustangs matched them with a 5-0 run of their own to tie it up. A four-point run shortly after put the Mustangs ahead, 9-6, and they kept their distance until a five-point rally by the Lions tied up the set at 21-21. The Mustangs earned set point at 24-22 before the Lions tied it up with two points, but Monroe regrouped for the final two points, forcing the deciding fifth set once again. It appeared that a fresh Wallace State team would have the advantage in a long match, and the home team managed to take an 8-2 advantage before switching sides of the court. The Mustangs were behind, 12-7, before closing the gap with five straight points. It was 13-13 before a couple miscues by an exhausted Mustang squad gave the Lions the final two points for a 15-13 win and a 3-2 victory in the match. Figueroa had a team-high 17 kills in the match, while La Longa added 15 and Julia Alves recorded 13. Jaddy Duarte had three kills and a team-high four blocks. Eleutiza picked up a season-high 59 digs in the match, while Daline Rios passed out a season-high 43 assists. The Mustangs are back in the NJCAA Div. I Women's Volleyball Championship tournament for the third straight year, and will be in Hutchinson, Kan. for the tournament from Nov. 15-17. The tournament bracket will be released during the upcoming week. A

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