WILMINGTON, North Carolina - The No. 3 seed UNCW volleyball team returns to postseason play for the first time in 13 seasons on Friday as it opens the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Volleyball Championship with a first-round contest against No. 6 seed William & Mary at 7 p.m. in the North Charleston Convention Center.

The winner of Friday’s contest will advance to Saturday’s semifinals, where they will face No. 2 seed Northeastern in a 4 p.m. contest.

Making its first appearance in the CAA Championship since the 2000 season, UNCW (19-9) enters the postseason winners of five of its last six matches after closing out the regular season with victories at Delaware (3-2) and Towson (3-1) last weekend.

Senior Christi Laite has been the focal point of the Seahawks attack this season, pacing the squad in kills per set (3.24), hitting percentage (.271) and points per set (3.77) to rank among the top six players in all three categories. Junior Morgan Kline is second on the team in kills per set (2.63) while freshman Nicole Lott has provided depth with a 2.22 kills per frame clip that is good for third on the team.  

Head Coach Amy Bambenek’s squad has also excelled with both its service and blocking all season as it led the league in both categories during the regular season and are currently ranked 13th in the nation in blocks per set (2.82) and 42nd in service aces per frame (1.47). Individually, sophomore Meredith Peacock also finds herself ranked highly among the top players in the country as she sits 10th in the nation in blocks per frame (1.49).

William & Mary (11-20) begins the CAA Championship on a three-match losing streak after closing out the regular season with losses at Hofstra (3-1) and Northeastern (3-0) last weekend.

Sophomore Dessi Kolva leads a balanced Tribe attack that features four players averaging more than 2.00 kills per frame with a 2.97 kills per set average. Defensively, senior Celine Alasomuka is third in the league in digs per frame (3.40) while sophomore Carolyn Allbright is fourth in blocks per set (1.08).  

Friday’s match marks the 54th meeting between UNCW and William & Mary. The Tribe holds a 48-5 edge in the all-time series, but the Seahawks have won four of the last six meetings. The two teams split their two regular-season contests. William & Mary posted a 3-2 victory at home on Oct. 4 before the Seahawks responded with a 3-0 sweep at Hanover Hall on Oct. 20. 

Friday’ contest also marks the 10th postseason meeting between the two programs. The Tribe has won all nine previous postseason matchups, with the last meeting taking place during the 1994 championship.