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Since Brady Starkey took over as the Concordia (St. Paul) volleyball coach in 2003, the Golden Bears have been a frequent participant in the Division II Elite Eight.

But their latest berth in the Elite Eight, which begins Thursday in Seattle, ended a recent drought. The Golden Bears, who are making their 12th appearance in the Elite Eight since Starkey became coach, are making their first quarterfinals appearance since 2017.

The Golden Bears (29-5), who have just one senior on their roster, advanced to Seattle after finishing in a tie for second in the NSIC during the regular season, runner-up in the NSIC tournament and winning the Central Region title. They defeated St. Cloud State, which won the NSIC tournament, for the region title.

"We're excited to get back to the Elite Eight," said Starkey, who has directed Concordia to nine national championships. "At the start of the season, it was one of the things we thought we could accomplish. We have a lot of talent. It's a matter of putting it together for three matches in a row in our region against teams that are just as talented as we are."

The Golden Bears have been led by junior Jasmine Mulvihill, who has 476 kills, and sophomore Emma Schmidt, with 367 kills. Sophomore Teagan Starkey leads Division II in assists per set (12.71).

In Thursday's quarterfinals, the Golden Bears will take on Southern New Hampshire. The Penmen (19-7), who won the East Regional as the No. 6 seed, are making their first appearance in the finals.

The winner will advance to Friday's semifinals to play the winner between Cal State Los Angeles and Gannon.


At Seattle

Quarterfinals • Thursday

G1: West Texas A&M vs. Wingate, 2 pm

G2: Barry vs. Missouri-St. Louis, 4:30 pm

G3: Cal State Los Angeles vs. Gannon, 7 pm

G4: Concordia (St. Paul) vs. Southern New Hampshire, 9:30 pm

Semifinals • Friday

G1 winner vs. G2 winner, 6 pm

G3 winner vs. G4 winner, 8:30 pm

Championship • Saturday

Semifinal winners, 5 pm