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Five Set Thriller Sends No. 17 Express Volleyball To Nationals, Hilfinger Breaks Career Assist Record
 November 4, 2012

By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information

Grand Rapids, MI---Alyssa Meis smashed her way to 29 kills as the No. 17 Express volleyball team came from behind to defeat Columbus State Community College 25-13, 20-25, 18-25, 25-20, 15-10 in the Region XII District E championship.

Had Columbus State won, the Express would have had another chance as Columbus State had to come out of the loser's bracket.

It was the second time the Express defeated Columbus State CC in the tournament and, with the win, the Express advance to the NJCAA D-II National Tournament, which will be held at Owens CC Nov. 15-17.

Meis, who added 22 digs and four assisted blocks, was named the tournament MVP. In the four tournament matches the Express played, Meis had 71 kills, 55 digs and seven assisted blocks.

Dakia Sellers, who had 19 kills and five digs in the championship, and Molly Hilfinger, who had 55 assists, five kills, 16 digs and one assisted block in the championship, were named to the Region XII District E all-tournament team.

In the championship, Kenzie Kleinhenz (9) and Dominique Yates (8) led the team in assisted blocks, while Lisa Urbanski had 34 digs. Bailey Windham added 12 digs.

The Path There

On Saturday, the Express reached the championship with wins over Oakland Community College (28-26, 25-20, 25-22) in the winner's bracket semifinal and Columbus State Community College (25-14, 16-25, 25-18, 27-25) in the winner's bracket finals. Oakland CC was the defending Region XII District E champion, as well as the defending NJCAA D-II national tournament runner-up.

In the win over Oakland CC, Meis and Sellers each led the Express with 16 kills, while Jazmine Thomas added five. Hilfinger had 38 of the team's 41 assists, and Urbanski had a team-high 18 digs. Windham (16), Hilfinger (15) and Meis (13) each also contributed in the dig category. Sellers led the Express in blocks with two solos and three assisted. Thomas also had three assisted blocks.

In the win over Columbus State CC, Meis (20) and Sellers (15) led the Express in kills, while Hilfinger had all 53 assists for her team. Urbanski had a team-high 32 digs, while Hilfinger (14), Meis (11) and Windham (9) also contributed. Yates had a team-high four assisted blocks.

Program Records

Hilfinger broke the Express volleyball program's career assist record in the championship match. She entered Sunday just 19 short of breaking Ceara Barr's record of 2,137 set in 2004-05. Hilfinger now has 2,174 assists, including 1,346 this year. After setting the single match assist record earlier this year, Hilfinger has a chance at the season record for most assists at nationals. She is 132 away from breaking Barr's 2004 total.

Meanwhile, Meis now has 559 kills this year and has a very realistic chance at the single season kills record currently held by Stephanie Champine (595, 2006). Sellers isn't too far behind Meis, either, as she has 553 digs this year.

Urbanski now has 838 digs this year, which is 168 short of Ashley Hill's 2004 record total of 1,006.


The Express are now 35-9 overall after making the national tournament for the second time in three years. They have won nine consecutive matches.

For head coach Sonny Lewis, this is his third trip to nationals (2003, 2010).

The Express will find out where they are seeded and who they will open up against sometime this week.

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