Banner Day: National Champions Honored Again
When the final ball hit the floor in Wittenberg's 3-0 NCAA Division III Tournament championship victory, Nov. 20, a release of energy from the Red & White enveloped all those in attendance. Just three months later, emotions around the team's history-making win were again high as the national championship banner was raised to the HPER Center rafters in the Pam Evans Smith Arena on campus, Feb. 11.
"It was a great honor for those of us involved in the program in 2011 to be the ones to complete the masterpiece," said Head Coach Paco Labrador, who earned NCAA Division III Coach of the Year following the championship win. "It really felt great to stand in front of such a loud and enthusiastic home crowd to pay tribute to both the players currently on the roster and the players who have made the program great over the years."
Video by Integrated Media Corps
The student-athletes and coaches of the 2011 national championship team were joined by a large group of alumnae at center court for the ceremony, which took place during halftime of a men's basketball game between nationally ranked North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) rivals Wittenberg and Wooster. Team captains Hannah Riley, class of 2012 from Minerva, Ohio, Kimmie Dyer, class of 2012 from Copley, Ohio, Katie Sumner, class of 2012 from Dublin, Ohio, and Christina Gilene, class of 2013 from Milford, Ohio, presented the trophy to University President Mark Erickson, University Provost Christopher Duncan, and President of Wittenberg's Board of Directors David Boyle before they unveiled the banner as the crowd of more than 2,500 roared in approval.The Tigers have been a fixture in the national rankings for nearly 20 years and an NCAA Division III Tournament participant 16 times before the 2011 squad broke through with a victory over Christopher Newport.
The campus tribute capped a whirlwind week that included a visit to the Ohio House of Representatives in Columbus, where a resolution was presented during the Feb. 8 afternoon session by State Representative Ross McGregor (R-Springfield). It saluted "a remarkable group of athletes" who "have combined talent and competitive spirit with the highest ideals of good sportsmanship to establish themselves as a truly exceptional squad."
The NCAA championship was Wittenberg's first in a women's sport and the fifth overall for the university. Notably, the Tigers became the first women's college volleyball team from Ohio — regardless of division — to claim a national title, and the first North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) member to earn a national volleyball championship.
After winning their 17th NCAC regular season and tournament titles without a loss, the Tigers dropped just one set in six matches en route to one of the most dominating NCAA Division III Tournament titles in history. Christine Simpson, class of 2012 from Dublin, Ohio, Gilene and Dyer were awarded spots on the all-tournament team, with Dyer adding Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.
Read More: Road to the Championship
Written By: Ryan Maurer
Photos By: Erin Pence and Kate Causbie '14
Video By: Trevor Grandy '13 and Clark Goodman '12