The four teams competing in this week's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Volleyball Tournament know each other well, with Wednesday's semifinal matches being an exact repeat of last Friday night's matchups and locations. Both semifinal matches present a rubber match between squads who each took one match off of the other earlier in the year.
Top-seeded Northwestern College (13-1 UMAC) will welcome the University of Minnesota, Morris back to Roseville, for a 7 p.m. match on Wednesday with the winner advancing to Saturday's championship. The same two teams faced off in the Eagles' Ericksen Center on Friday, with Northwestern coming from behind in every set to win 25-23, 25-23, 25-17. The story had a different ending when the two teams met in Morris on Oct. 5, as the Cougars pulled out a 21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 victory. Minnesota Morris enters the tournament as the No. 4 seed after finishing the regular season tied with Martin Luther College with a 10-4 conference record (Martin Luther earned the higher seed due to tiebreaker criteria). The Cougars' Kaylie Clark leads the UMAC in digs per set (5.33), while Northwestern's Krista Stoltz is tops amongst conference players in assists per set (11.41).
While Northwestern and Morris are battling at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night, so too will the College of St. Scholastica and Martin Luther. The Saints and Knights went to five sets last Friday in Duluth, with Martin Luther winning 22-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, 15-11. St. Scholastica had its day on the Knights' home court earlier in the season when they posted a 25-10, 25-21, 25-17 victory on Oct. 5. St. Scholastica, who won the 2011 UMAC Tournament and made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, is the second seed in this year's UMAC playoffs after going 11-3 in conference contests. The Saints are led by Anna Zyvoloski, who is atop the league statistics with 4.26 kills per set. Zyvoloski will go up against Martin Luther's Rachel Hein, who leads the UMAC in blocks per set (1.44).
Wednesday's winners will meet at the highest remaining seed for a 7 p.m. championship matchup on Saturday that will determine which UMAC team will earn the league's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament, which starts on Friday, Nov. 9. That team will discover who and where it will play in the big dance when the NCAA selection show begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 5 on NCAA.com.