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~National Volleyball Semifinal Looms in Wisconsin~

For immediate release:
Nov. 30, 2001

Patrick Kiley,
781-283-2003 or 2900

WHITEWATER, WIS. - There is nothing white about this place. Purple would better describe the land in which the Wellesley College volleyball team will attempt to win its first national championship.

The quest, which began 31 matches ago, enters its most important chapter Friday night as No. 18 Wellesley (27-4) takes on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the No. 1 team in the nation and host of this year's NCAA Division III Final Four, at 7:30 p.m., CST in the Williams Center.

Everything in the Williams Center is purple: the floor, the walls, the seats and surely the Warhawks' uniforms, as well as the 1,400 people expected to pack this place Friday night.

But just maybe this purple haze Wellesley has walked into is exactly what it needs to advance to Saturday night's national championship match against the winner of No. 6 Juniata and No. 8 LaVerne. After all, in each of its last two NCAA matches, Wellesley has defeated teams, which wore purple.

After a regional semifinal victory over Gordon, Wellesley posted victories over Williams and Nazareth, both of which wore purple. Who's next the Niagara University Purple Eagles?

But the purple pokes aside, this has been quite a ride for this team - literally and figuratively. The flight to Milwaukee Wednesday night on Midwest Express was made for volleyball players. With a pair of six-footers and several others standing much taller than your average frequent flyer, the extra legroom and extra-wide seats made for a rather comfortable flight. For the record, this was still coach class. But the figurative ride is an ongoing one. This is a team that is not satisfied simply to be here. Reaching the Final Four is just a step in the process. The real goal is one 300-some Division III volleyball teams started practicing for in August. Now four remain, and Wellesley is lucky enough - and more importantly talented enough - to be one of them. Like a prizefight, the goal is to be the one left standing. The only difference is that Wellesley is in a purple ring with three opponents rather than one.

But should these 12 college-aged volleyball players be the ones left standing, it would mark the first team national championship for Wellesley College. Karyn Cooper holds the distinction of capturing Wellesley first national crown, winning the NCAA Division III Tennis Singles Championship in 1991.

But at a school with more than its fair share of distinguished alumnae, working in fields ranging from politics to space to medicine and beyond, how appropriate to add 12 of the athletic variety?

It just could happen. It only takes two wins in two days. Those wins would just happen to be against two of the finest teams in the nation. Many have said Wellesley is the underdog and maybe it is - if you look at the poll. Fortunately for Wellesley, the poll does not matter once the ball is served.

Friday night as Americans around this nation settle into their chairs after a hard week at work, 12 Wellesley College volleyball players will extend the traditional work week into the evening and even Saturday.

Rest assured, they will be turning the Williams Center into their own purple paradise.


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  • Office of Public Information
  • Date Modified: Nov. 30, 2001
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