On top of the nation, the No. 1 Concordia Eagles were back at it on Tuesday, October 30 in a 3-0 straight-set win over No. 21 Vanguard. Earlier in the day, the Eagles were proclaimed No. 1 in the latest NAIA Coaches' Poll and senior Brooke Marino was awarded NAIA Player of the Week for her performance last week.
Kansas City, Mo. - Brooke Marino of Concordia (Calif.) has been named NAIA Volleyball National Player of the Week, the national office announced Tuesday. Marino was selected based on her performance from Oct. 22-28 and was chosen out of a pool of conference player of the week selections among 23 conference/independent/unaffiliated groupings.
"It's a great feeling, but I think this year we have a little more fire in our belly," Marino said. "It's just a number right now and we want to finish in the end."
Marino, a 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter from Mission Viejo, Calif., led the Eagles to a 3-0 record this past week. Mario led the Eagles to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-13) victory over then-No. 12 Westmont (Calif.). She collected a game-high 14 kills, seven digs and two aces against the Warriors. Marino continued her dominating performance against then-No. 1 Texas at Brownsville, where she recorded a game-best 22 kills, 26 digs and three block assists in a 3-2 (24-26, 30-28, 25-20, 20-25, 15-12) victory. Mario capped the week off with 14 kills, seven digs, two aces in a 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-13) victory over Arizona Christian. In three matches, Marino collected 50 kills, 40 digs, six block assists, and five aces.
Marino leads the team in kills (328) and aces (46). She ranks second in the Golden State Athletic Conference and 18th nationally with 3.86 kills per set. Marino ranks 42nd in the nation in aces. It was Marino's second NAIA Player of the Week nod, as she earned one last season.
The Eagles received all 23 first-place votes on Tuesday and garnered 653 points. This is Concordia's first No. 1 ranking since November 11, 2011 and fourth all-time. Concordia extended its winning streak to an NAIA-best 26 games after a 3-0 week. The Eagles defeated No. 12 Westmont (Calif.), 3-0, (25-13, 25-19, 25-13), Arizona Christian, 3-0, (25-9, 25-13, 25-13) and then-No. 1 Texas at Brownsville 3-2, (24-26, 30-28, 25-20, 20-25, 15-12) in the NAIA Match of the Week. Brooke Marino led the Eagles with a game-high 22 kills and a team-high 26 digs against the Scropions. Concordia has the longest active streak in the Top 25 as it has been ranked for 82-straight polls.
On Tuesday the Eagles took to defending that ranking and swept the visiting local rival Lions. Reanna Schelhaas led Concordai with 11 kills, hitting .562 with two blocks. Marino added nine kills, 16 digs, and two blocks. Madison Ekis had eight winners and three blocks, and Fei Gao added seven kills. Le Mi hit .583 with seven kills and three blocks. Concordia edged the blocking battle 6.5-6. Concordia hit .287 as a team, while Vanguard hit .041.
With the score 4-3 in the first set Concordia went to a 9-4 lead on two kills from Ekis and two more from Schelhaas. Vanguard climbed back quickly to 9-8, but CU went back ahead 15-10 after two Marino kills. The Lions got back within two, 15-13, but Concordia won 10 of the last 12 points, highlighted by kills from Gao, Mi, and Schelhaas, and blocks from Mi, Ekis, and Gao. Concordia won 25-15 and hit .314 on the set. Vanguard hit .059.
Concordia jumped out 11-6 in the second set on three early Gao winners. They spread it to 19-10 with kills from Marino and Schelhaas, and a number of VUSC errors. The Lions pulled within four at 22-18, but Concordia was able to finish 25-19. The Eagles hit .200, compared to .048 for VUSC.
Concordia focused a bit more in set three and kicked it into gear. They started up 9-2, highlighted by six straight to start while Elizabeth Younglove was serving. She started with an ace and a kills, and kills from Marino and Ekis kept it going. It was 14-5 after winners from Schelhaas, Marino, and Gao. Concordia dominated to the finish line, never leading by less than eight to end the match 25-13 and complete the three-game sweep. CU hit .393 in the final set, compared to .000 for Vanguard.
Concordia's setters Elizabeth Younglove and Jenee Henderson both played very well, and at times head coach Dan Fisher elected to play both, plus libero Kara Vincitorio, in the same rotation.
The No. 1 Eagles improved to a still-perfect 27-0 and 11-0 in conference. Concordia continues to build on its best start in school history. Vanguard fell to 15-13 and 5-6 in the GSAC.