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Bryant battles No. 2 Minnesota Friday in NCAA First Round

Northeast Conference/Larry Levanti
Northeast Conference/Larry Levanti

MINNEAPOLIS – The Bryant University volleyball team plays in its first NCAA Division I tournament match Friday when the Bulldogs travel to Minneapolis to face No. 2 national seed Minnesota.

Bryant is 22-12 on the year with a 10-4 showing in the NEC, sweeping Sacred Heart in Brooklyn for the conference title after a five-set victory over Central Connecticut in the semifinals. Redshirt-senior Julia Flynn was named Most Valuable Player, while senior Grace Richmeyer and sophomore Erika Ward joined Flynn on the all-tournament team.

The Bulldogs appeared in 11 NCAA Division II tournaments from 1994-2007 before moving to Division I in 2008. Bryant first became eligible for postseason play at the Division I level in 2012.

The match can be viewed online on and the BTN2Go app.

The Particulars
 No. 2 Minnesota
Match Time: Friday – 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT
Location: Maturi Pavilion (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Match Notes: Bryant
Links: BTN2Go | Live Stats

Friday marks the second meeting between the Bulldogs and Golden Gophers. Minnesota took a three-set victory Sept. 18, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, when both teams' current seniors were freshmen. Kristin Kingi and Kirstyn Sperry played all three sets in the match, while Julia Flynn and Grace Richmeyer appeared in one set each. Kingi recorded six kills, while Sperry tallied 13 assists while splitting setting duties with Vika Nesterov. 

Bryant leads the nation in total kills (1,850) and total assists (1,733). The Bulldogs have already set new Division I program bests in both categories along with total digs (2,236). 

The Bryant senior class of Kristin Kingi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.), Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.), Grace Richmeyer (DeSoto, Mo.) and Julia Malet (San Rafael, Calif.) has contributed to 81 victories in their time in Black & Gold, the most of any class in Bryant's Division I era. The class has produced Bryant's two winningest seasons since the move to D1, tallying 21 victories in 2017 and 22 in 2018. 

Freshman Caroline Kennedy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) enters Friday three kills away from breaking Bryant's Division I single-season kills record of 406. Kennedy has 24 matches of 10+ kills this season. 

Sophomore Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) recorded a career-high 32 digs in the NEC Semifinal win over Central Connecticut to pass the 1,000 mark for her career. Ward is the first sophomore in program history to hit the 1,000 mark. 

Senior Kristin Kingi broke Debora Magalhaes' Division I program record for career digs in the NEC Final victory over Sacred Heart and now has 1,365 for her career.

Bryant recorded 112 digs in the NEC semifinal win over Central Connecticut, besting the Division I program mark of 109 against Saint Francis U last season. Redshirt-senior Julia Flynn matched her career-high with 23 digs against the Blue Devils in addition to Ward's career-best 32.

Five Bulldogs - redshirt-senior Julia Flynn, seniors Kristin Kingi and Grace Richmeyer, and freshmen Caroline Kennedy and Haley O'Brien (Milton, Mass.) - recorded 10 or more kills in the NEC Semifinal win, marking the second time this season Bryant had five players with double-digit kills. Flynn, Kingi, Kennedy, O'Brien and freshman Jenna Knight (Scottsdale, Ariz.) posted 10 or more kills each in the October 20 win at Robert Morris. 

Bryant has picked up victories over eight conferences this season, including the program's first wins over Conference USA and MAC members. The Bulldogs have three wins against the America East with one coming at conference champion Stony Brook. Bryant has also tallied victories over the MAAC (2), MEAC (2) and Big East in addition to 12 against NEC Teams. 

Redshirt-senior Julia Flynn surpassed the 1,000-kill plateau Oct. 6 against Fairleigh Dickinson. Flynn is the third Bulldog to reach 1,000 kills since Bryant made the move to Division I. 

Senior Kirstyn Sperry was named as a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, one of 30 Division I volleyball players to earn the distinction. The Senior CLASS Award is given to a student-athlete who excels on the court, in the classroom and in the community. 

The Bryant freshman class has recorded a combined 33 performances of 10 or more kills this season, led by 24 from Caroline Kennedy

Head coach Theresa Garlacy picked up her 500th career victory in the Sept. 8 win over Coppin State, 22 years to the day of her first victory over Saint Michael's in 1996. Garlacy has won 516 matches in her collegiate head coaching career - all at Bryant - entering the weekend. 

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